Rabbinical Association donates rare book to KU’s Jewish studies department
- Published: Thursday, 29 September 2016 10:00
- Written by Barbara Bayer, Editor
The Rabbinical Association recently came into possession of a very rare book, “Die alten jüdischen Heiligthümer,” (“Jewish Ceremonial Law and Custom”), by Johann Lund (1638-1686), printed and bound in Hamburg, Germany, in 1701.The Rabbinical Associated decided to give it to the University of Kansas department of Jewish studies and it will be housed in the Spencer Research Library. The presentation was made earlier this month.
The book was donated to the Rabbinical Association by John M. (Jack) Hammell of Leavenworth, Kansas. Before the organization received the book, it received this note, saying the book had belonged to the man’s father, a Lutheran pastor, along with a brief description.
“It is printed in both Hebrew and German, and is about 4-inches thick, 14-inches tall and 9-inches wide.
“When my dad passed away in 1984, he had already entrusted this volume to me. Since then, I’ve kept it while traveling to and living in Israel among 41 countries around the world.
I am now getting older myself, and don’t want this volume to be carelessly discarded when I pass away.”
By donating this book to KU, Rabbi David Glickman, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom and president of the Rabbinical Association, said, “this was a way for us to have more impact with this book than if we were to just try to sell it through some random auction house and get a few thousand dollars. Hopefully this book will contribute to research taking place there.”
Beth M. Whittaker, assistant dean of distinctive collections and director of Spencer Research Library, said “it’s a very rare book to be had in libraries in the United States, so it will be really fantastic and we certainly appreciate the donation.”
John Younger, professor of classics and academic director of Jewish studies at the University of Kansas, added, “there is certainly not a copy of this in the Midwest and maybe only one or two on the East Coast.”
Jewish studies at KU recently began offering a Bachelor of Arts degree. Last spring six students graduated as Jewish studies majors and 10 are expected to graduate this year.
Younger said faculty members are excited to be able to use this work in their research, including Sam Brody in the religious studies department and Ari Linden in German, who basically work in the area of 19th and early 20th century Jewish thought. Another professor, Paul Morecki, who works in the areas of old books and old texts, is also interested in seeing the book.
Spencer Library’s Whittaker said the book will be “a very fine addition to our resources.” The library was built in 1968 to house rare books, archival collections and objects that require specific conservation and would be preserved for the long term. Unlike a circulating collection, material does not leave Spencer Library.
“People consult it on our premise and we have a vigorous program of not only supporting international scholars who come to view our collections but also we are working very closely all the time with professors who are at KU who bring students to Spencer Library and use the resources that we have.
“I am really excited about this because it gave us an opportunity to take a look at Hebrew language materials prior to pre-modern printing.”
Whittaker explained that library conservators will take a look at the book and determine whether it is now in a shape where it can be used for research or see if it needs any sort of treatment. Once it is ready for research, “we’ll begin the process of letting people know that it’s available for research.”