The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary has received a $175,300 grant to make available a collection of rare materials from the Jewish communities of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. According to an email sent by Naomi M. Steinberger, Director of Library Services at JTS, the Cataloguing Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant comes from the The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, through a program administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). It will allow JTS to make available the collection of Dr. Johanna Spector, a professor of ethnomusicology at JTS who passed away in 2008.
“The Spector Archives offer a fascinating exploration of non-Western Jewish religious and communal traditions that developed and persisted over 2,000 years,” Steinberger wrote in a statement. “These materials are of immense value for a wide range of researchers studying ethnography, history, anthropology, and music.” The collection includes materials relating to the Jewish communities of India, Yemen, Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Armenia, as well as of the Samaritan people.
“It’s a shanda (outrage)!” exclaimed Bruce A. Phillips of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles Campus. He was reacting to the cessation of the American Jewish Year Book after a successful run of more than a century by the American Jewish Committee.
The Yearbook — a handy compendium of demographic and historical trends, global statistics on Jewry, obituaries, and exhaustive listings of Jewish organizations and publications — has lined the bookshelves of major Jewish community executives for decades, immediately recognizable by its candy color-striped covers. The last volume was published in 2008.
But new hope for the publication came in December at the Association for Jewish Studies conference in Washington, D.C., when Ira Sheskin, a University of Miami professor, declared that he and colleague Arnold Dashefsky, a professor of sociology and Judaic studies at the University of Connecticut, were in discussions with the German-founded Springer publishing company to resurrect the Year Book.