Spectacular New Acquisition: A Pair of 18th Century American Jewish Portrait Paintings

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity and vision of Arnold and Deanne Kaplan, the Penn Libraries have acquired a pair of 18th-century oil portraits of Moses Michael Hays, arguably the most prominent Jewish merchant of the time, and his wife Rachel Myers Hays, the daughter of the outstanding colonial Jewish silversmith (Myer Myers). These paintings are attributed to Gilbert Stuart, renowned for his unfinished painting of George Washington, which appears on the one dollar bill!

In the Margins of a Medieval Jewish Prayer Book: The New SIMS-Katz MOOC

In Penn’s Libraries, one can find a particular battle-scarred volume. It is a large folio, rebound in old leather, damaged by fire, with margins cut, pages torn out, others stolen but then replaced, marked by a few clever patches to the parchment. There are marginal notes in a variety of inks and handwritings representing many generations of readers and amenders. It is a late thirteenth–early fourteenth-century Mahzor, or Jewish prayer book for the high holidays, originating from the German Rhineland.

Penn Judaica Selected New Acquisitions

In the spirit of these difficult times, we would like to highlight two special acquisitions that reflect the possibility of overcoming trauma and rebuilding lives. Thanks to the Mark S. Zucker Judaica Endowment, established by Katz Center board member Mark Zucker, we acquired the first edition of Viktor Frankl’s Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen [“Say yes to Life”] (Vienna: Franz Deuticke Verlag, 1946).

The Ilan Stavans Collection of Jewish Latin American History, Culture, and Literature

We are delighted to announce that Ilan Stavans, of Amherst College, the internationally known scholar, writer, editor, translator, playwright, cultural critic, publisher, teacher, lexicographer, columnist, journalist, travel writer, biographer, actor, TV and radio host, has donated to the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, the Ilan Stavans Collection of Jewish Latin American History, Culture, and Literature.

The David M. Goldenberg Papers

David M. Goldenberg, the former President of the Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning, the editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review, and the leading intellectual force who transformed the College into the Annenberg Research Institute, today known as the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at Penn, has donated his personal and administrative papers collection to the Library at the Katz Center.

Examples of Safrut from the Penn Libraries Manuscript Collections

A Sofer is a Jewish ritual scribe, and Safrut is the ritual writing penned by a Sofer. Ritual writing follows a strict set of rules, and very small details can disqualify the item from ritual use. A misspelled word, certain misshapen letters, disorderliness, and even beginning certain columns with the wrong word can sometimes disqualify an entire scroll. Disqualified Torah scroll fragments, for example, are permitted for study purposes only, but not for ritual contexts.