Recent acquisition by the Katz Center Library: The Moldovan Family Collection of Judaica


Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

In the summer of 2014, Joseph and Susan Moldovan (both class of 1976) presented an extraordinary gift of over 1,200 books, pamphlets, scrolls, graphic art, and art reference works of Judaica to the Penn libraries. This collection was assembled over many decades by Joseph Moldovan and his late parents, Dr. Alfred Moldovan and Jean Moldovan. Joseph Moldovan donated the collection to the Penn libraries in his late parents’ honor and memory. The Moldovan collection consists of over 600 haggadot dating from the 17th-20th centuries printed in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Ladino, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Yiddish. The largest portion is concentrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries, emanating from over twenty different towns, cities, and countries, such as Amsterdam, Basel, Brisk, Brünn, Danzig, Djerba, Frankfurt, Fürth, Halle, Jerusalem, Livorno, London, New York, Paris, Prague, Sulzbach, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Vilna, and Warsaw. Many are beautifully printed and illustrated and, most unusually, include two haggadot printed in scroll form. The Moldovan Family Collection also features dozens of liturgical works and specialized historical imprints. Among the more noteworthy items are: a Yiddish translation of the medieval chronicle Sefer Yosipon, printed by Moshe Katz, the important Prague Hebrew printer, in 1607; a number of early modern Christian Hebraist works, including Jacques Basnage’s translation from Latin into French of Petrus Cunaeus’s Republic of the Hebrews, which was printed in Amsterdam in 1713, as well as finely illustrated nineteenth-century texts such as a red leather, gold embossed, tooled German edition of Gustave Doré’s illustrated Bible. Most significant, perhaps, is the Moldovan’s collection of nearly 250 historical prints and engravings from the 17th-19th centuries depicting rabbis, synagogues, family scenes, and Jewish ceremonies from Europe and the Ottoman empire. The Moldovan gift joins the Moldovan Family French Judaica Collection donated in 2012, which together constitute a substantial boon to Penn’s modern Jewish historical holdings.