Highlight Reel #8

A major focus of the William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection is synagogue imagery represented in both prints and postcards. In addition to thousands of such items, dozens of books collected by Rosenthall explore the art and architecture of the synagogue. Such items include publications on specific synagogues, such as Bevis Marks in London, the Alte Synagoge in Essen, and the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague; on synagogues in defined geographic areas, such as Baden-Württemberg, Vienna, Amsterdam, and Italy; and on synagogue art and architecture.

One of the publications that most spectacularly combines imagery and text is Die neue Synagoge in Berlin : entworfen und ausgeführt von Eduard Knoblauch, vollendet von August Stüler, published in Berlin in 1867. The New Synagogue in Berlin, Germany, was designed by architect Eduard Knoblauch; following the architect’s death, the structure was completed by architect August Stüler. The synagogue was inaugurated on September 5, 1886.

Die Neue Synagoge Berlin cover

This publication includes an introduction by Eduard Knoblauch’s son Gustav Knoblauch, which details the history of the building’s construction and explicates the layout of the complex, as well as one full-page chromolithograph of the synagogue’s interior and and six full-page engravings of plans for the structure.

Chornische mit dem Allerheiligsten

Chromolithograph of the apse and Torah ark of the Neue Synagoge, Berlin


Synagoge in Berlin_1

Engraving of the synagogue’s exterior


Synagoge in Berlin_2

Floor plans for the upper and lower levels. The upper level is labeled as the women’s gallery; the placement of the organ is also noted. Men would sit on the lower level, but the plans for this level also include stairs for the women to use to enter their gallery. A smaller diagram to the left shows the synagogue’s proximity to Berlin’s Jewish Hospital.


Synagoge in Berlin_3

Cross-section of the Neue Synagoge, Berlin


Synagoge in Berlin_4

Cross-section of the Neue Synagoge, Berlin


Synagoge in Berlin_5

Details of windows, doorways, and cornices


Synagoge in Berlin_6

Cross-sections and details of the iron supporting structures


Highlight Reel #7

One of the few truly interactive items held in the William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection is this Sukkah kit, produced by Kunstgewerbestube Jenny Westheim, at Schwanenstraße 6, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The kit originally came as five large pieces, shown below, including the three exterior walls as one piece, fourth exterior wall (decorated as an interior wall), and roof as the three largest pieces. The smaller piece, above left, is comprised of pieces to be separated and then assembled into a table, benches, and a basket of challah and vase of flowers to go on the table. The second smaller piece, below left, contains three flower boxes for the windows and support structures for the table and stools. The exterior wall is also embedded with smaller items, including candlesticks, to be removed and placed on the assembled table.

Sukkah kit waiting to be assembled.

Sukkah kit waiting to be assembled.


Sukkah kit walls and roof.

In addition to this Sukkah above, which was never used, the Rosenthall Collection holds a second, identical Sukkah that had been previously assembled. We used pieces from this second, previously used Sukkah, to assemble the kit. This envelope, in which the pieces came, shows what the Sukkah will look like upon assembly.


Sukkah kit envelope.

And here is the final product!

Front of the Sukkah.

Front of the Sukkah.

Sukkah exterior.

Sukkah exterior.

Sukkah roof.

Sukkah roof.

Sukkah table and stools.

Sukkah table and stools.

Highlight Reel #6

Among the Yiddish-language materials held in the William A. Rosenthall Judaica collection are three posters dating from World War I, one produced by the United States Food Administration and two produced by the Jewish Welfare Board.

The Food Administration was the responsible agency for the rationing of food in the United States during World War I. The Yiddish text on the following poster published by the Food Administration reads: “Food will win the war! / You came here seeking freedom. Now you must help to preserve it. Wheat is needed for the allies. Waste nothing.” The “Food will win the war” campaign, initiated by the Food Administration’s head Herbert Hoover, calls on immigrants to do their part for the war effort by conserving food. The posters of the Jewish Welfare Board, below, call for contributions to the war effort through the donation of funds to welfare organizations supporting both troops at the front and their families on the homefront.

Food will win the war Yiddish

The Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) was formed at the beginning of World War I to “minister to the spiritual and recreational needs of all the men in the army and navy, but serving especially those of the Jewish faith.” In a pamphlet published by the JWB shortly after its founding, the organization described its purpose thusly: “To be with the Jewish soldier and sailor everywhere, aiding him, cheering him, inspiring him, serving him loyally and helpfully, and, through him, his country, and the ideals for which it stands.” From the perspective of the JWB, its “most distinctive vital function” was the “safeguarding and developing of the religious life and convictions of [the] men.” The JWB supported Jewish religious life through leading Sabbath and holiday services; supplying prayer books, prayer shawls, and tefillin; and providing kosher food.

However, the JWB went far beyond these religious activities in providing for the welfare of Jewish troops. According to the organization, “Everything from leading a minyan to staging a boxing bout for the entertainment of the boys falls within the province of the Jewish Welfare Board workers.” Welfare workers provided classes in English, French, American history, and civics; organized literary clubs, concerts, dances, and athletic events; set up libraries in English and Yiddish; and visited sick and wounded soldiers in the hospital. Personal services of the JWB extended beyond the servicemen themselves to include home visits to the soldiers’ relatives.

United War Work campaign Yiddish1

The many services of the National Jewish Welfare Board are on display in the above poster, printed for the United War Work Campaign. The United War Work Campaign brought together seven organizations–the YMCA, the YWCA, the American Library Association, the War Camp Community Service, the Knights of Columbus, the Jewish Welfare Board, and the Salvation Army–into one large funding drive charged with raising over $170 million for the war during the week of November 11-18, 1918.

The Yiddish text on the poster reads: “He provides them with everything,” an apt description for the the Welfare worker holding a Torah scroll, Yiddish books by authors such as Sholem Aleichem and I. L. Peretz, food, and a violin with sheet music. Funds raised through the United War Work Campaign would pay for these services as well as home visits to soldiers’ families, shown in the poster below. The Yiddish text on this poster reads: “Don’t worry, he is all right.”

Unite War Work campaign Yiddish2

For more information on the Jewish Welfare Board, see Jewish Welfare Board, United States Army and Navy, co-operating with and under the supervision of the War Department Commission on training camp activities; purpose, scope, achievements.

Highlight Reel #5

The Loose Postcards series of the Rosenthall Collection is comprised largely of scenes from Mandatory Palestine and the State of Israel. The major focus of these postcards is geography and landmarks–street scenes from cities such as Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv, landmarks such as gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, or natural landmarks such as the Dead Sea.

The exception is this bound booklet of 20 postcards entitled Jewish Battalions in Palestine (הגדודים העברים בארץ ישראל). The postcards feature black-and-white photographs by photographer and cinematographer Yaacov Ben-Dov (1882-1968) and a cover designed by artist Ze’ev Raban (1890-1970).


The subject of the photographs is the Jewish Legion, a military formation of Jewish volunteers that fought with the British Army during World War I, particularly the 38th, 39th, and 40th Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers.


Colonel Paterson, D.S.O., Commanding the 38th Battn. R.F.


Changing the Guard at El Arish


Chaplain’s address during the Saturday Service at the Camp of the 38th R.F.


The Camp at Rafa


The Post Office of the 40th R.F.


Group of Soldiers on the Sea Shore at Jaffa


A Jewish Soldier working in the Agricultural School “Mikweh Israel”


The 39th Battalion R.F. camped outside Jerusalem


The Jewish Soldier’s Home at Jerusalem


Guards in the Surroundings of Haifa


Guard on the Bridge of the River Kishon

Highlight Reel #4

Perhaps one of the most beautiful items in the Rosenthall Judaica Collection is an elaborately decorated bound manuscript created on the occasion of the dedication of the Versailles Synagogue on September 22, 1886. In between intricately carved wood covers are a hand painted dedication page, photographs of the interior and exterior of the synagogue in Versailles, and text of speeches given at the synagogue’s inauguration.

The carved wood cover of the manuscript bears Hebrew text excerpted from Proverbs 31: Many daughters have done valiantly, but thou excellest them all. This text is most likely in reference to Cécile Furtado-Heine, a French philanthropist whose contributions allowed for the building of the synagogue in Versailles.

A hand painted illustration at the beginning of the manuscript also pays tribute to Cécile Furtado-Heine’s role in the building of the synagogue: “Ce temple dédié à l’Eternel à été édifié par Madame Cécile Furtado Heine, que son nom passant de génération en génération soit béni septembre 1886.” This same inscription can be found on plaques at the entrance of the Versailles Synagogue.

Versailles Synagogue dedication

A second hand painted page shows the plan for the synagogue’s interior, the work of architect Paul Blondel. The architect Alfred-Philibert Aldrophe is responsible for the synagogue’s exterior.

Versailles Synagogue plans

The manuscript also contains large black-and-white photographs of the exterior and interior of the Versailles Synagogue at the time of the inauguration.

Versailles Synagogue exterior

Versailles Synagogue interior 1

Versailles Synagogue interior 2

Versailles Synagogue interior 3

The photographs are followed by the text of speeches given by Rabbi Zadoc Kahn, Rabbi Emmanuel Weill, and Rabbi Mahir Charleville on the occasion of the synagogue’s inauguration.

Versailles Synagogue speech Zadoc Kahn

The manuscript concludes with handwritten scores for two pieces composed by Jules Cohen, including the Shema Yisrael.

Versailles Synagogue Schema Israel title

Versailles Synagogue Schema Israel 1

Highlight Reel #3

In a portfolio of miscellaneous prints, sandwiched between engravings of the Jewish priest Mattathias and posters of artwork commemorating the Holocaust, we found this handmade tribute to Hungarian merchant and philanthropist Philipp Schey von Koromla (in Hungarian, Schey Fülöp). Philipp Schey von Koromla was born on September 20, 1798, in Güns (Kőszeg); he died on June 26, 1881, in Baden bei Wien. He holds the distinction of being the first Jew in Hungary to be made an Austrian noble. His patent of nobility references his benevolence “toward suffering humanity, regardless of creed.”

Philipp Schey von Koromla

In addition to the photograph of Philipp Schey von Koromla in the center, this page includes photographs of the great contributions that he made to the town of Kőszeg. The photograph on the middle left shows the synagogue in Kőszeg, which can be seen in the center background. The Gothic Revival synagogue was built between 1858 and 1859 with donations from Philipp Schey von Koromla. A painting inside the cupola bears the words “in Ehre Gottes gebaut von Philipp Schey von Koromla” (built in praise of God by Philipp Schey von Koromla). The building still stands, but it has been deserted since the Jews of Kőszeg were deported in 1944.

This postcard from the Rosenthall portfolios gives a clearer view of the synagogue in Kőszeg.

This postcard from the Rosenthall portfolios gives a clearer view of the synagogue in Kőszeg.

The photograph in the lower center shows the Albrechtinum, which served as a house for the poor. The building was made up of living units for up to 15 people; the rooms were given out to the poor regardless of their religious confession. The building that housed the Albrechtinum is still standing and is today a residential building.

The photograph on the middle right is the Elisabethinum, a kindergarten built in 1868 with the support of Philipp Schey von Koromla. Children were admitted here regardless of religious confession. This building is no longer standing.

At the bottom is an excerpt of a poem by Hungarian poet Dániel Berzsenyi:

“A derék nem fél az idők mohától:
A koporsóból kitör és eget kér,
Érdemét a jók, nemesek s jövendő
Századok áldják.”

And the text of Psalm 37:37:

“Figyeld meg a feddhetetlent
nézd a becsületes,
Mert az ilyen ember jövője:

Highlight Reel #2

A particularly colorful part of the Rosenthall Collection is several dozen large format Rosh Hashanah pop-up cards. Rosenthall himself described these beautiful cards in a New Year’s message to his congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in Charleston.

He described the pop-up cards as “very old and unusual examples of Jewish Near Year cards, today a not insignificant business in America and in other parts of the world. Many of these cards are extraordinarily ornate, much more so than the most fancy available today, for the fold out and pop up and are remarkably colorful contrivances of paper lace and filigree. Not only are engaging religious scenes presented, but also flower-laden ships, automobiles and locomotives, all expressing a joyous ‘L’shanah Tovah’ wish to a delighted and perhaps dumbfounded recipient. Most of these fanciful, intricately manufacture cut-outs were produced in Germany around the turn of the century and very few have survived the many decades, let alone in good condition.”

The cards pictured below are only a sampling of those held in the William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection.

Rosh Hashanah card 1

Rosh Hashanah card 2

Rosh Hashanah card 3

Rosh Hashanah card 4

Rosh Hashanah card 5

Rosh Hashanah card 6

For more information on Rosh Hashanah cards, see the article “Holiday Cheer” in the Summer 2003 issue of Pakn Treger : Magazine of the Yiddish Book Center.



Highlight Reel #1

While processing the Rosenthall Judaica Collection, Processing Archivist Amy Lazarus has come across a variety of interesting items in formats outside of the scope of our postcard and print portfolios. From textiles to pop-up cards, commemorative plates to coins and medals, comic books to stamps, there are so many unique items to share with the world. What better way to do that than with a new series here on our blog, named, appropriately, Highlight Reel.

For the first installment of this series, we would like to share four photographs that we recently found. Enjoy!

Jewish Old Age Home, Harbin, Manchuria

Jewish Old Age Home, Harbin, Manchuria


World War I train Seder

Seder held in a Pullman car for soldiers returning from World War I, Detroit, April 1919


Congregation Beth Hamidrash Hagodal Nusach Sfard

Congregation Beth Hamidrash Hagodal Nusach Sfard, formerly located at 450 East 172nd Street, Bronx, NY


Ezra Hebrew School

Ezra Hebrew School, formerly located at 1745 Washington Avenue, Bronx, NY