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Penn Library Exhibitions

Printers Mark by Van Bashuysen
From Written to Printed Text:
The Transmission of Jewish Tradition

An Exhibition of Books and Manuscripts
from the Library of the
Center for Judaic Studies

Curated by Rebecca Kobrin and Adam Shear
April 21 - June 26, 1996

Rosenwald Gallery
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
University of Pennsylvania

© 1996 by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
ISBN 0-935135-01-4


It is a pleasure to introduce this catalogue presenting an exhibit of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books located in the marvelous library collection of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Judaic Studies. The exhibit, which opens in the spring of 1996 at the University's Van Pelt Library, focuses on the transmission of knowledge from medieval to modern times in Jewish culture, especially the remarkable changes in the process engendered by the technology of the printing press. The exhibit visually highlights some of the critical themes studied by a remarkable group of scholars in Bible, rabbinics, medieval and modern Jewish history, Hebrew paleography, Jewish and Islamic philosophy, Islamic history, ancient Christianity and more, assembled in this year's fellowship at the Center for Judaic Studies. The exhibit coincides as well with the year-ending colloquium of the Center on the theme: "Learning and Literacy in the Judaic Tradition: A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Inquiry."

This exhibit constitutes a remarkable collaboration between the Center and its fellowship and staff and the Van Pelt library and its staff who have worked diligently to present the results of the learning experience of a group of scholars to a wider public audience at the University and beyond. I am pleased to thank publicly Dr. Paul Mosher and Dr. Michael Ryan and their staff for their support of the exhibit and for their general support and interest in the activities of the Center for Judaic Studies. I would also like to offer my appreciation to Aviva Astrinsky, Dr. Sol Cohen, and Howell E. Dell, of the Center for Judaic Studies, who also contributed their time and energy to this important project.

This exhibit also represents a different and very special kind of collaboration between the Center, an institute for post-doctoral study in Jewish civilization, and the graduate program in History and Jewish Studies at the University. The two curators of the exhibit, who assumed full responsibility for its conception and implementation, are Rebecca Kobrin and Adam Shear, both graduate students in Jewish history at Penn. Both participated in a seminar on the impact of printing on Jewish cultural formation offered by a Fellow of the Center for Judaic Studies, Dr. Elhanan Reiner of Tel Aviv University, and they also consulted widely with other fellows at the Center in organizing the exhibit and writing the catalogue. They deserve our special thanks for their intelligence and dedication in leading this project to its successful conclusion.

Finally, I would like to offer my gratitude to the friends of Van Pelt Library, and especially to Mrs. Rochelle Feldman Levy, a member of the Board of Overseers of the Center for Judaic Studies, and to her husband, Robert Levy, for their generous support of the exhibit and of this valuable catalogue.

David Ruderman
Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History
Director, Center for Judaic Studies

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