Thanks to a generous grant provided by Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services’ Louisville Jewish Community Excellence Committee, The Temple’s Temple Scholars Adult Education class was afforded the opportunity to visit the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College. On Wednesday, October 27, 2010, the Temple Scholars class was able to tour the campus for three hours, seeing some of the greatest collections of Jewish documents, books and artifacts housed outside of the Jewish Museum in Israel.
Specifically, the group was treated to an introduction of the American Jewish Archives at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center, as well as a tour of the David Ellenson Rare Book Room in the Klau Library (the fourth largest Jewish library in the world) and the Skirball Museum. The group was happily hosted by The Temple’s good friend, Rabbi Jean Eglington.
In the Archives, the group was able to view documents related to Jewish history on a broad scale, such as the telegraph message that was the earliest hint of what was to come in WWII Germany as well as documents near and dear, including a weekly bulletin from when their own Rabbi Chester Diamond was the Associate Rabbi. It was obvious even after just 30 minutes that the archives are providing a valuable service to the Jewish community as well as history as a whole by preserving these documents.
The Rare Book Room was a delight for all those interested in Jewish history, or even history in general. Nowhere else would one be able to see a leaf from an original Gutenberg Bible as well as a beautiful, but obviously well used, velvet covered prayerbook in the same room with the first ever Bible printed in Madagascar. The archivist was obviously very proud of not only the displayed volumes, but also of the many shelves and rooms full of other rare books available to scholars and layman alike to use in their research.
The Skirball Museum literally offered something for everyone. The group was able to see a collection of antiquities from The Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem. The museum’s collection also includes an exhibit with items from Egypt and Palestine that focus on the life, death and religion of everyday people. The exhibit includes examples of material from the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. For those not so interested in the ancient world, the museum offers artifacts examining Jewish Festivals and Life Cycles, The Holocaust, and Modern Israel.
Also due to the grant from Jewish Hospital, the Temple was able to purchase several books specifically for the Temple Scholars class. These books are significant in that most Torah study classes would never have had access to these texts. The grant money was able to provide these 60 scholars with a learning experience second to none.