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Israel and Judaica

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Preventing a War between the Religious and the Secular in Early Israel

DAVID BEN-GURION, Autograph Letter Signed, to D. Z. Benat, July 9, 1954, Jerusalem, Israel. In Hebrew, 1 p., 6½ x 9 in.

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The continuance of the compromise is dependent, first and foremost, on the degree of tolerance that people who hold opposing outlooks can show through a mutual love of Israel.

Item #26100, $7,500

Menachem Begin Organizing Opposition and Criticizing Prime Minister Ben-Gurion

MENACHEM BEGIN, Autograph Manuscript Signed, in Hebrew, Speech on Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, [November 1, 1950-July 30, 1951]. 3 pp., 5 x 7¾ in.

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“To the Mapai regime: ‘Neither farewell nor see you again.’”

Item #22794, $10,000

Before Declaring Israel’s Independence, Ben-Gurion Counters American Backpedaling and Pushes Start of Temporary Government

DAVID BEN-GURION, Autograph Letter Signed, “D. Ben-Gurion” to Rabbi Yehuda Leib Fishman. March 23, 1948, [Israel]. In Hebrew, one page on The Jewish Agency for Palestine stationery. 8.5 x 11 in.

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In 1947, as the British mandate over Palestine (established by the League of Nations in 1922) was about to expire, the United Nations called for partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. Jewish leaders accepted the plan, but Arab leaders announced that they would oppose its implementation by force. President Harry Truman had endorsed partition despite opposition within his administration. On March 19, 1948, the U.S. shockingly reversed its position supporting partition; instead it called for a temporary United Nations trusteeship.

David Ben-Gurion, as head of the Jewish Agency, masterfully worked to contain the damage. Less than two months after writing this letter, Ben-Gurion and the recipient of this letter, Rabbi Judah Leib Fishman (Maiman), both would help draft and sign Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Item #24454, $12,500

Many of the leading Jews of Newport and New York sign 1818 land sale from estate of Benjamin Seixas to Oliver Hazard Perry

[EARLY AMERICAN JUDAICA]. NAPHTALI PHILLIPS, Manuscript Document Signed, 1p, folio, 14½ x 21½ in., November 30, 1818.

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Elaborate receipt for Newport, Rhode Island sale of land from estate of Benjamin Seixas (1747-1817) signed by numerous members of his family and members of the Spanish-Portuguese Jewish Congregation who were heirs to the property, known now as the Buliod-Perry House at 29 Touro Street, to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the great naval hero of the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.

Item #25466, $18,000

Earliest Known Printing of “Tikvatenu” [Our Hope – the origin of “Hatikvah”] Inscribed by Author Naftali Herz Imber to Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the “revivalist of the Hebrew language”

NAFTALI HERZ IMBER, Sefer Barkai [The Morning Star], book of poems. Jerusalem: M. Meyuhas Press, 5646 [1886]. Hebrew and some German.

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Dedicatory inscription on verso of title page (partly cropped by binder), handwritten in Hebrew by Imber: “To my wise friend, the linguist... of the periodical HaZvi in Jerusalem. [...] The renowned wordsmith from the ranks of the Jewish sages [...], Ben-Yehuda. This booklet is a memento from the author.

Inked stamps on title page and on several additional pages (Hebrew): “House of Reading and [Home of] the Book Collection, Jerusalem, may it be rebuilt and reestablished” / “Beit Sefarim Livnei Yisrael... Yerusahalayim…” [House of Books for the Children of Israel in the Holy City of Jerusalem]. The library known as “Beit Sefarim Livnei Yisrael” was established in Jerusalem by a group of scholars led by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda in 1884 (upon its closing in 1894, its book collection was transferred to the Midrash Abarbanel Library, which eventually evolved into the National Library of Israel.)

In 1886, prior to the publication Barkai, Imber published the following advertisement in Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's Hebrew-language newspaper, HaZvi (2nd year, Issue No. 36): “There is a book with me among my writings [to] which I have given the title ‘Barkai’ [...] Any printer who wishes to purchase it from me in order to publish it should contact me...” An editor’s note follows the advertisement: “We have seen these poems which have been written by Mr. Imber, and [regard them] in keeping with the principle to which we adhere, ‘Look upon the vessel and relate not to its creator' [in a play on words on the chorus of the well-known liturgical poem for the Day of Atonement, ‘Ki Hineh KaHomer’]. It is incumbent upon us to state that the spirit of lofty poetry hovers over them; their thoughts are pleasant and desirable. The language in them is pristine and clear, and the ideas are exceptional. Many of these poems are worthy of becoming national songs. In general, these poems are faithful national songs, writings of a distinguished poet.”

VI, [2], 127, [1] pp., 15.5 cm. Good-fair condition. Stains, mostly to first and last leaves. Tears, some open and some long, to title page and to several other leaves, mostly restored with paper or mended with adhesive tape. Handwritten notations to some pages. New binding and endpapers.

Item #26582, $75,000

“Jerusalem of Gold,” Penned by Naomi Shemer in June 1967 with Verse Added to Celebrate the Recapture of Jerusalem

NAOMI SHEMER, Autograph Manuscript Signed of the lyrics to “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” / “Jerusalem of Gold,” handwritten music manuscript, and a printed booklet with her signature, all in Hebrew.

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Item #25672, $125,000

The Building Blocks of Albert Einstein’s Creative Mind

[ALBERT EINSTEIN], Ephemera. Set of Anker-Steinbaukasten children’s building blocks by F. Ad. Richter & Cie., Rudolstadt, [Germany], c.1880s. Approximately 160 composite quartz sand, chalk, and linseed oil blocks in red, limestone and slate gray, in various sizes and shapes, together with three or more sets of building plans, all contained in two wooden boxes with printed Anker-Steinbaukasten labels.

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A unique and important artifact of his childhood.

Item #24284, $180,000

Albert Einstein on the search for greater meaning: “Using such apothecary’s methods one cannot reveal any of God’s secrets, I think.” A Swiss chemist’s work leaves Einstein cold, but Schrödinger “has the scent of a deeper truth.”

ALBERT EINSTEIN, Autograph Correspondence Card Signed, to Michele Besso, May 1, 1926, Berlin. In German. 1 p., 4¼ x 5⅞ in.

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Item #25045, SOLD — please inquire about other items

The earliest obtainable printing of George Washington’s Clearest Statement on Religious Freedom: “the Government of the United States...gives to bigotry no sanction...” (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON. AMERICAN JUDAICA], Newspaper. Newport Mercury, September 13, 1790. Newport, Rhode Island: Henry Barber. Moses Seixas’ letter to Washington, and his response, the “Touro Synagogue letter,” both printed in full on page 1. 4 pp., 8⅛ x 13 in. This printing, while sold, is available for appropriate museum loans.

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From fifteen Sephardic families who arrived in 1658, Newport’s Jewish community grew to be the largest in the colonies by the Revolutionary War. Many Jews left during the British occupation, but a significant number returned. By the time of Washington’s visit, there were approximately 300 Jews in the thriving Newport community.

On August 17, 1790, on behalf of the Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, Newport merchant and banker Moses Seixas wrote an address to welcome George Washington. Seixas’ letter (see below) welcomed Washington to Newport, and congratulated his ascendancy to the Presidency. Seixas also expressed his hopes for the new government’s success and its commitment to religious freedom, that a “government erected by the majesty of the people, a government which to bigotry gives no sanction, persecution no alliance, but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience,” would be created under the new Constitution. Seixas most likely gave Washington the letter on the morning of August 18, when other Clergy and townspeople met with Washington to express their regard for him.

Washington replied later on August 18. He thanked the community for its warm welcome, and assured the congregation that in his administration, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship....” He then echoed and built on Seixas’ words, “For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

The original letter is owned by the Morris Morgenstern Foundation, and is on long-term loan to the National Museum of American Jewish History. We were honored to have appraised the original prior to its exhibit, and to have arranged several loans to the museum. Each year, members of the Touro Synagogue in Newport read the letter in a public ceremony.

The Boston Herald of Freedom first published both Seixas’ letter and Washington’s reply on September 7, 1790, followed by a Newport printing on September 9.

Washington echoed Seixas’ words, and built on them, to make his most celebrated statement on religious freedom.

Item #25029, SOLD — please inquire about other items
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