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:
boldogság!”

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The Case of the Mistaken Tuesday

Processing Archivist Amy Lazarus and I recently had the opportunity to look into several reels of tape found with the William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection. These reels were especially intriguing as we had no immediate way to listen to them and only the slightest hint at their content–a note slipped into one of the boxes indicating that they dated from Rabbi Rosenthall’s time at the Woodsdale Temple, home of Congregation L’Shem Shomayim in Wheeling, West Virginia. Rosenthall served as rabbi of this congregation from his appointment in August 1958 until he left in February 1962 to take the position of executive director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Audio reel

One of the reels from the William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection

For assistance, we reached out to Rick Zender, curator of the John Rivers Communication Museum located on the College of Charleston campus. The museum holds a wide range of devices used throughout communication history, including radios, telephones, phonographs, and televisions. They also hold a reel-to-reel recorder, which Rick helped us use to listen to the reels of tape from the Rosenthall Collection.

Reel-to-reel tape recorder

Reel-to-reel recorder at the John Rivers Communication Museum

One of the reels contains a recording of a service held on the morning of Rosh Hashanah at the Woodsdale Temple. In the following clip, you can hear Rabbi Rosenthall reading from the prayer book during the service. Documents from Rosenthall’s personal papers tell us that the congregation adopted the Union Prayer Book in 1897; it was replaced by Gates of Prayer in 1975.

 

A second reel contains a recording of a skit performed at the 1959 convention of the West Virginia Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, which was held in Wheeling. A write-up in the June 1959 Woodsdale Temple Bulletin describes the convention:

“In the estimation of the ladies of the Congregation the outstanding event of the spring was undoubtedly the 31st Biennial Convention of the West Virginia Federation of Temple Sisterhoods of April 14 and 15. For the first time in many years our own organization was the hostess sisterhood. Wheeling buzzed with consecrated activity, and the afterglow is one of resounding success… Not only was Wheeling brought into bright focus in Sisterhood affairs by the convention itself but also–indeed, especially–by the happy assumption of the State presidency by our tireless Janis Stein. She succeeded Helene Rotgin of Charleston. A talented crew presented a delightfully amusing skit, ‘The Case of the Mistaken Tuesday’ after the buffet supper.”

June 1959 Woodsdale Temple Bulletin

June 1959 Woodsdale Temple Bulletin

“The Case of the Mistaken Tuesday” was written and directed by Irene Rosenthall, wife of Rabbi William A. Rosenthall. In the skit, a woman happens upon the Sisterhood convention while intending to attend a lecture by the rabbi entitled “Sex and Judaism,” which is actually scheduled to take place the following Tuesday. The members of the Sisterhood take the opportunity to explain to her the group’s purpose and activities in both word and song. Lyrics of hits from several contemporary musicals, including The King and I, My Fair Lady, Damn Yankees, Oklahoma!, and South Pacific are tweaked and utilized to elucidate these activities. In the following clip, Sisterhood members discuss several initiatives, including religious school teacher training and stationary sales, then describe the work of the Sisterhood “Caravan” to the tune of “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific.

 

The finale of the skit is a celebration of the convention set to the tune of the title song from Oklahoma!.

 

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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.

 

 

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Welcome Spring 2014 Interns!

Two fantastic interns have joined the Rosenthall project for the Spring semester, bringing with them Hebrew and German language skills, knowledge of Jewish and German culture, and a desire to learn more about the the prints and postcards held in the collection as they work to scan, re-house, and describe them. Meet our new interns:

Jamila Anderson

Jamila Anderson

Jamila Anderson is a senior at the College of Charleston with double majors in German and business administration, with a concentration in marketing. She is a native German speaker, and she is currently using her language expertise to research and translate a portfolio of prints containing German-language anti-Semitic caricatures. Jamila described why she enjoys working with the collection, and which print has interested her the most so far:

“What I found most interesting about the collection is that I am actually handling pieces of history, some of which are centuries old.  I find it amazing that I can start out with just a simple caricature, and after a bit of research have an entire story that goes along with the piece.  My favorite item is actually a series of seven engravings that reference the play “Unser Verkehr” by Karl B. Sessa.  These are my favorite items because they are all intertwined, and represent different components of the play.  I find it really interesting that there are so many different perspectives of this single topic, and that the entire series of engravings depict the plot of the play.”

cofc-war-print22-024

cofc-war-print22-025

Gabe Davidson

Gabe Davidson

Gabe Davidson is a junior at the College of Charleston majoring in philosophy. While living and studying on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in Israel for five months last year, he began to cultivate an interest in studying Jewish texts and familiarizing himself with some of the prominent thinkers and rabbis behind them. Gabe is looking forward to furthering his knowledge of Jewish history while working with an extensive collection of figures central to Jewish thought. He has been using his Hebrew language skills to complete a portfolio of postcards featuring rabbis and Jewish leaders, most of which contain texts only in Hebrew and Yiddish. Gabe found a postcard featuring a photograph of World War I flying ace Wilhelm Frankl to be the most interesting item he has seen so far:

“I chose the postcard of Wilhelm Frankl postcard as my favorite, due to the outstanding legacy of Frankl. He volunteered to fly for the German army in World War I, and quickly rose to the rank of lieutenant. He died in battle at the age of 23, but not before converting to Christianity for his wife.”

cofc-war-postcard13-104

We appreciate all of the work our interns have done so far, and look forward to the remainder of the semester!

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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

 

 

 

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New Upload! Eastern European Synagogues

In December, the Lowcountry Digital Library uploaded 430 new postcards from the Rosenthall Collection. These postcards come from two portfolios containing postcards of synagogues in countries in Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, and Bulgaria. A great many of these postcards display images of synagogues that have since been destroyed or are no longer used as synagogues.

Below is a sampling of some of the recently uploaded items. For more postcards of Eastern European synagogues, search the Lowcountry Digital Library: William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection – Postcards.

Synagogue (Hradec Králové, Czech Republic)

Synagogue (Hlohovec, Slovakia)

Great Synagogue (Łomża, Poland)

Synagogue (Tiszafüred, Hungary)

Karaite Kenesa (Yevpatoria, Ukraine)

Great Synagogue of Vilna (Vilnius, Lithuania)

Choral Synagogue (Samara, Russia)

Orthodox Synagogue (Oradea, Romania)

Synagogue (Subotica, Serbia)

Synagogue (Lida, Belarus)

Synagogue (Liepāja, Latvia)

Synagogue (Tartu, Estonia)

Synagogue (Sofia, Bulgaria)

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Processing Update: Postcards and Periodicals

We are happy to announce that processing of the loose postcards in the William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection is complete! The postcards have been sorted into categories and rehoused in archival-quality boxes.

These postcards cover a variety of topics, including small amounts of synagogues, cemeteries and tombs, rabbis, and Rosh Hashanah cards, but the major focus of the loose postcards is scenes of Palestine and Israel. These postcards provide photographs of cities, including: Petah Tikva, Rishon LeZion, Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias, Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jericho. The postcards also provide photographs of natural landmarks, such as the Dead Sea, Judaean Desert, Jezreel Valley, Mount Tabor, and Mount Gilboa. Of particular note are postcards with photographs of the yishuv and the Jewish Legion.

Box 1 of the Loose Postcard subseries.

Box 1 of the Loose Postcard subseries

We are also happy to share that we have finished an inventory of full-issue periodicals found in the William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection. A list of these newspapers, magazines, and comic books can be found here: William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection Periodicals Series.

This series contains both national newspapers and newspapers published by Jewish communities in various parts of the world. The national newspapers found in the collection range from one to four editions and include reports on various aspects of Jewish life, such as social events, synagogue consecrations, and religious ceremonies. Content in national newspapers also includes reports of missionary efforts to ameliorate Jews, reports of Jewish criminals, and reports of anti-Semitism. Jewish community newspapers document social events, religious events, fundraising, and community news particular to a specific communities.

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Shaarai Torah Synagogue Update

After reading our blog entry Rare Find: New Shaarai Thora Synagogue, Worcester, MA, researcher Peter Thomashow was kind enough to reach out to us with additional information regarding the synagogue and its history. Peter shares both an interest in the history of Worcester’s synagogues and a personal connection to this synagogue in particular. We love learning more about items in the Rosenthall Collection, and send a big thank you to Peter for providing us with additional information!

Shaarai Torah

Here are some of the highlights:

Founded in 1904, Shaarai Torah was constructed between 1904 and 1906 to meet the religious needs of Worcester’s growing population of Eastern European Jewish immigrants who settled on the city’s east side. Local architect Edwin T. Chapin built the synagogue in the classical revival architectural style. According to playwright S. N. Berhman, who grew up across the street from the synagogue and was a member there, the synagogue was designed as an exact, albeit scaled-down, imitation of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on East 85th Street in New York City.

By the late 1920s, Worcester’s Jewish population began to move from the East Side to the newly developing suburban areas on the west side of the city. As this shift occurred, many East Side congregations decreased in size and later ceased to exist. In 1948, Congregation Sons of Abraham, one of the last congregations on the East side, merged with Shaarai Torah. In 1960, Shaarai Torah West was established on Pleasant Street, and the original synagogue became known as Shaarai Torah East.

Further information on Shaarai Torah Synagogue can be found on the website of the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System.

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New Upload! Northeast and Midwest United States Synagogues

We are excited to announce that the Lowcountry Digital Library recently uploaded approximately 300 new postcards from the Rosenthall Collection! These postcards of synagogues in the Northeast and Midwest United States include some of the country’s oldest synagogues, such as Rockdale Temple (K.K. Bene Israel) in Cincinnati, OH; Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI; Temple Mishkan Israel in New Haven, CT; Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, MA; Temple Israel in Boston, MA; Congregation Shearith Israel in New York, NY; and Eldridge Street Synagogue in New York, NY.

For more postcards of United States synagogues, search the Lowcountry Digital Library: William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection – Postcards.

Rockdale Temple (K K. Benai Israel), Cincinnati, Ohio

Touro Synagogue, Newport, Rhode Island

Temple Mishkan Israel, New Haven, Connecticut

Temple Ohabei Shalom, Brookline, Massachusetts

Temple Israel, Boston, Massachusetts

Congregation Shearith Israel, New York, New York

Eldridge Street Synagogue, New York, New York

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Rare Find: New Shaarai Thora Synagogue, Worcester, MA

While processing Rabbi William A. Rosenthall’s extensive collection of postcards, Processing Archivist Amy Lazarus came across a postcard with a photograph of a synagogue in her hometown of Worcester, MA. Being unfamiliar with the synagogue, Amy talked to her family and researched online to find out more about the synagogue, its history, and its significance for the Jewish community of Worcester. Below, Amy shares what she discovered.

Recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing firsthand the value of Rabbi Rosenthall’s impressive postcard collection. While processing, I came across an image of a synagogue in my hometown of Worcester, MA. Not recognizing the building, labeled New Shaarai Thora Synagogue I asked my father if he knew where the synagogue was located.

My father informed me the photograph might be a rare image, as that particular synagogue had been badly damaged due to an arson-related fire and had long been out of use as a synagogue. He then shared a surprising story: my great grandfather had actually been one of the one of the early congregants of the synagogue!

This, of course, prompted me to begin researching the synagogue to learn more. And soon the value of the Rosenthall Collection became even more apparent.

I found that the synagogue had actually been Worcester’s first Modern Orthodox synagogue and a significant part of the city’s Jewish history. Unfortunately, the building had been remodeled and converted to condominiums after the fire. While the building still stands, I could find no pictures of it prior to this conversion online.

While I could easily locate another building in use today as the Shaarai Torah Synagogue in Worcester, I could find no photograph of the building on the postcard in the Rosenthall collection.

Eventually, I learned that the synagogue I did keep finding was a second Shaarai Torah synagogue that was opened on the west side of the city. This became known as Shaarai Torah West, with the original synagogue known as Shaarai Torah East. Shaarai Torah West became an independent congregation in 1964, and Shaarai Torah East continued to operate until it was the last remaining synagogue on the East side of the city.

The synagogue on the postcard was Shaarai Torah East, the first of the two buildings, which opened its doors in 1906. The synagogue served the community of Worcester for an entire century, until the devastating fire forced it to close its doors as the last synagogue on the east side. Despite its role as a prominent synagogue in the history of Worcester’s Jewish community, today its only online presence is a lone Wikipedia article which features the remodeled building as condominiums.

It appeared I was holding one of what may be only a few photos of the Shaarai Torah east prior to remodeling. If not for Rabbi Rosenthall’s collection, the ability to easily see the original Shaarai Torah synagogue, Worcester’s very last east side synagogue, might have been lost.

This experience served incredibly well to demonstrate just how valuable the collection will be to researchers and to preserving the history of Jewish communities all over the world.

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