Salomon Plessner’s First Publication - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Salomon Plessner’s First Publication

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Salomon Plessner (1797-1883), an outstanding Orthodox Jewish preacher in 19th century Germany, is also remembered for his translation of the entire Apocrypha into Hebrew, which appeared in Berlin in 1833.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia (1907),

“At the age of seventeen Plessner began to study [Naphthali Herz] Wessely’s [partial] Hebrew translation of the Apocrypha, resolving to continue the translation himself. He indeed published at Breslau in 1819 his Hebrew translation of the Apocryphal additions to the Book of Esther, under the title “Hosafah li-Megillat Ester,” with a literary-historical introduction.”

Yet, strange to say, no copy of this 1819 publication was to be found either at or in the larger OCLC data-base.

That is, until yesterday, when I found a copy on our stacks, entering it today into OCLC.

Given the relative rarity of the item, it would be good to know its provenance. In the upper left-hand corner one can see the autograph of “M Brann.”

Brann (1849-1920) was a major player in the 19th century Wissenschaft des Judenthums “school” of scholarship. Based in Breslau at the Jüdisch-theologisches Seminar in Breslau, where he taught history, he also authored and edited scores of books and articles, as well as serving as editor in chief of the prestigious Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums from 1892 until 1919.

After his death, his library was put up for sale. The two major bidders were Jews’ College in London and Stephen S. Wise, who desired it to serve as a major basis for the library of the Jewish Institute of Religion, which he was founding.

Wise won, and the Jewish Chronicle published an editorial in which decried the loss to London and European Jewry.

And as they say, “ … the rest is history.”