Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Scholem collection at the Israel National Library

INTERVIEW WITH THE CURATOR: How This Bible Got To Jerusalem — And Other Secrets Of Gershom Scholem’s Library (Aviva Kushner, The Forward).
The index cards Scholem painstakingly prepared to create his dictionary of the Zohar are here, in a wooden card catalogue, as is the Scholem family Bible, which is encased in glass. I watched, intrigued, as scholars and eccentrics from around the world got up from their spots at the tables throughout the room to take a look at a volume from Scholem’s vast collection of books on Hasidim, comparative religion, psychology and philosophy. A few looked up and smiled at me, as if we were all residents of the same home, part of the same family. On the day I visited, there was only one woman besides me in the room; all the other researchers were male — but I was assured this was just happenstance.

Scholem’s books offer clues to his thought, and his research on subjects like Shabtai Tzvi, Jewish history’s most famous false messiah. For Scholem’s many devotees, who appear to live on every point on the spectrum between deeply religious and incurably secular, the draw is not just the books in the collection, but the handwritten notes found written in them — the marginalia Scholem left behind.
The curator of the Scholem Room in the Israel National Library is Dr. Zvi Leshem. The National Library is currently undergoing renovation. The Scholem collection will be moving to a new building.

Oh, and you have to read to near the end of the article to find out about that Bible (the Scholem family Bible) mentioned in the headline.

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