Dedicated to all of the Judaica Library’s great friends.
First and foremost, to our major benefactors, the late Samuel and Jack Price (may their memory be a blessing)
And to all the members of the Price family for their ongoing support; to Kenneth Treister for the beautiful Judaica Suite; to the many other kind donors to the Price Library, the Judaica Suite, and the NEH Challenge Grant, as well as to Judaica Library staff past and present:
Thank you all for your wonderful friendship and incredible support.
This exhibition celebrates forty years of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida (UF) by showcasing forty of its special items. The Library was born in the 1970s in tandem with the development of the Center for Jewish Studies at UF. Thanks to the advocacy of Vice-Chancellor Harold P. Hanson, Jewish Studies Director Barry Mesch, Sam Gowan, Samuel Proctor, Ralph Lowenstein, and other members of the university and local communities, the UF Libraries were able to apply for one of the first National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grants to purchase a major private collection of Judaica and Hebraica owned by Rabbi Leonard C. Mishkin of Chicago. The personal library of Brandeis professor Shelomo Marenoff was added in the same year, and the complete inventory of Bernard Morgenstern’s Yiddish-oriented bookstore on New York’s Lower Eastside was brought in after that. Thanks to Samuel and Jack Price of Jacksonville, Florida, who provided a major endowment in support of its management and growth, the Library was officially named in honor of their parents, Isser and Rae on March 7, 1981.
Renowned bibliographer Robert Singerman was the first curator of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica. Over the next twenty-five years, he increased its holdings substantially to represent the breadth and depth of Jewish history, culture, and religion across time and space. Rebecca J. W. Jefferson became the Library’s curator in 2010. In addition to adding archives and manuscripts, she has developed the Latin American, Caribbean, and Floridian materials through the award of a second historic NEH Challenge Grant.
In 2014, the Library expanded into a special set of reading rooms to establish the “Judaica Suite” uniquely designed by the celebrated Florida architect and artist, Kenneth Treister. Today, the Price Library of Judaica comprises over 120,000 volumes, including 10,000 rare books and periodicals; forty archival and manuscript collections; works in forty-five languages, representing over fifty countries, and over 19,000 digitized items online.
These forty objects are just a sample of the many riches within. They are divided into five distinct sub-categories. The first category, “Rarities,” includes printed books from the 15th to 18th centuries, many of which represent milestones in Jewish publishing history, as well as individual objects each with a unique provenance story. The “One of a Kind” section ranges from scrolls and manuscripts to unique works of art and sculpture by Jewish creators or with Jewish themes. In the “Special and Unusual Collections” category are materials such as a cookbook, a rare children’s book, a musical score, and other distinctive items that capture moments of Jewish history in various unexpected ways. The objects in “Journeys Through Time and Space” each demonstrate the ways in which Jewish materials leave their footprint across various temporal and spatial dimensions both physically and symbolically. Finally, the objects in “Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean” represent items recently acquired for the Library through its NEH Challenge grant or through digital partnership with other institutions and organizations. The section includes rare periodicals, maps, and ephemera, each testifying to various aspects of community life in these regions, as well as family papers from Floridian homes that provide important documentation of key historical events.
Unless otherwise noted, all items are from the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica, Special & Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida.