National Library gets finest collection of Hebrew prints and manuscripts

Israel’s national library has enriched its collection with one of the world’s largest collections of Hebrew texts. 

The National Library of Israel (NLI) has acquired the world’s greatest private collection of rare Hebrew books and manuscripts.

The National Library announced Thursday that it acquired the Valmadonna Trust Library, which includes rare manuscripts, over 500 posters spanning from the 16th to the 19th century, and incunabula of the Pentateuch from 1491.

“The acquisition of the Valmadonna and its arrival in Jerusalem present a tremendous opportunity for the National Library of Israel to further realize the vision of its renewal, as we will open access to these exquisite cultural treasures for researchers and the general public in Israel and across the globe,” announced National Library director Oren Weinberg.

The renowned Valmadonna Trust Library was acquired by the National Library through a private sale arranged by Sotheby’s. The acquisition was made jointly with Archaeology, Books, and Judaica collectors Dr. David and Jemima Jeselsohn.

The acquisition was made possible by a generous gift from the Haim and Hana Solomon Fund.

The Valmadonna Trust Library was assembled over a period of more than six decades by visionary collector Jack Lunzer. It comprises a wide-ranging group of more than 10,000 works that chart the spread of Hebrew printing and the global dissemination of Jewish culture.

Among the highlights of the collection are an incunabula of the Pentateuch, printed in Lisbon in 1491; one of only two surviving copies of a Passover Haggadah printed in Prague in 1556; An Ashkenaz siddur printed in Venice on parchment in 1549; The Plantin Polyglot or “King’s Bible,” printed in Antwerp between 1568 and 1573; and more than 550 broadsheets dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries.

“The acquisition is an important and exciting addition to the NLI’s collection,” the library stated. “The printed works in the collection are in superb condition and the acquisition has enabled NLI to gain in one acquisition what would have taken decades to collect.”

“The National Library of Israel is currently in the midst of a comprehensive renewal process. In this context, the Library continues to expand its collections tremendously, acquiring cultural and intellectual treasures ranging from ancient Jewish and Islamic manuscripts to contemporary music. The Valmadonna Trust Library represents an historic addition to our leading collection of Jewish manuscripts, prints and books, which reflect and embody the cultures of the Jewish people around the world and across the ages,” said David Blumberg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Library of Israel.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News