On the Cost of Scholarship, or: There is No Garage Sale @ Brill - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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On the Cost of Scholarship, or: There is No Garage Sale @ Brill

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I just initialed a purchase requisition for 14 books – not an uncommon act of an academic library’s director. The price tag: $3032.00 – less and less an uncommon price tag for scholarly publications. Why should you care? Because as I was excitedly reading the back-cover summaries and endorsements, pouring over their rich tables of content, and congratulating myself on once again putting our collection on the cutting edge of scholarship, it dawned on me that it may take a long time before anyone else gets excited over any of them, or over the total amounts that our library system invests in anticipating and meeting the needs of our faculty and students.

Why is that? I asked myself, and what can the library do to make you more aware, and to make the books more visible? But before I answer my own questions (not a Hokhmeh*, as my mother would say…), I am going to have you taste the titles, breath in the aromas of intriguing ideas, and hopefully, have you order from the menu:

Studies in the History of Culture and Science: a Tribute to Gad Freudenthal. Edited by R. Fontaine, R. Glasner, R. Leicht and G. Veltri. Twenty two chapters on the history of science and the role of science in Judaism.

From Two Kingdoms to One Nation – Israel and Judah; Studies in Division and Unification. By Shamai Gelander.

Bene Israel: Studies in the Archaeology of Israel and the Levant during the Bronze and Iron Ages in Honour of Israel Finkelstein.Edited by A. Fantalkin & A. Yasur-Landau.

“From a Sacred Source”: Genizah Studies in Honour of Professor Stefan C. Reif. Edited by B.M. Outhwaite & S. Bhayro. Papers from the 2007 Cambridge conference

Spirituality in the Writings of Etty Hillesum: Proceedings of the Etty Hillesum Conference at Ghent University, November 2008. Edited by K.A.D. Smelik, R. van den Brandt & M.G.S. Coetsier.

The Same but Different? : Inter-Cultural Trade and the Sephardim, 1595-1640. By J. V. Roitman. The study challenges historiographical arguments that the Sephardim achieved their 

commercial success by relying on geographically dispersed family members and fellow ethnics.

Opening the Gates of Interpretation: Maimonides’ Biblical Hermeneutics in Light of His Geonic-Andalusian Heritage and Muslim Milieu. By M.Z. Cohen.

The Temple of Jerusalem: From Moses to the Messiah, in Honor of Professor Louis H. Feldman. Edited by Steven Fine.

Legal Fictions: Studies in Law and Narrative in the Discursive Worlds of Ancient Jewish Sectarians and Sages. By S. D. Fraade

From Conquest to Coexistence: Ideology and Antiquarian Intent in the Historiography of Israel’s Settlement in Canaan. By K. van Kekkum.

Without Any Doubt: Geronides on Method and Knowledge. By S. Klein-Braslavy.

The Martyrdom of a Moroccan Jewish Saint. By S. Vance On the martyrdom of Sol Hatchuel, a Jewish girl from Tangier, that traumatized the Jewish community and inspired a literary response in Morocco and beyond.

The City Besieged: Siege and Its Manifestations in the Ancient Near East. By I. Eph’al.

History of Modern Jewish Religious Philosophy; v. 1: The Period of the Enlightenment. By Eliezer Schweid.


Aha! Time to Jewishly answer my original questions – that is, with more questions – and make a few suggestions that will make such treasures more visible and accessible to you.

Did you know you can find out about our recent acquisitions when you log on to our website? Try: http://blog.huc.edu/aquisitions/LA/

Do you ever look at the bookstand at the entrance to our Joseph Reading Room? This serves as the “hot off the press” carousel to books that are even newer than the ones listed on the “New Books” page!

How about looking at the dust jackets’ displayed on our bulletin board? (Librarian lingo for book covers…) Everything up there is catalogued, shelved, and ready to go!

OK. Now it’s up to you to make me a true believer, allow me to complete the purchase request with a clean conscience and consider it money well spent.



* Profound wisdom, in (sarcastic) Yiddish