Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A treasure at the Jerusalem International Book Fair

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Every day this week over a hundred exhibitors are showing their wares at the 24th Jerusalem International Book Fair.
But it seemed to me like only half the usual number.
Most likely some countries cancelled due to the recent fighting in Gaza and the rockets being fired at Israeli towns around Gaza.
The brave ones who came bearing books came from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Lithuania, Nepal, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, UK, and USA, and of course Israel.

The sheer size and the gorgeous front cover of this old book was breathtaking!

The gentle lady at the Jewish National Fund booth explained that the Golden Book, Sefer Hazahav, was a list of those who donated money to the JNF's various projects from 1901 to 1911.
It was the first Goldenes Buch; by now there are 26 more.

Click to enlarge this picture and you will see that Dr. Theodor Herzl himself gave 10 Pounds Sterling. The book was handwritten and bound in Basel, Switzerland, appropriately.
Following the First Zionist Congress of 1897 Herzl wrote in his diary: “Were I to sum up the Basle Congress in a word - which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly - it would be this: At Basle I founded the Jewish State.”

The great achievement of the Fifth Zionist Congress held in Basel in 1901 (the time the Golden Book was begun) was the establishment of what would become know as the Jewish National Fund or Keren Kayemet LeYisrael which was to raise funds for the purchase of land in Palestine.
The famous tin JNF Blue Box graced Jewish homes throughout the Diaspora. Families would put their spare coins in the "pushke" and feel connected to the dream of a future return to the homeland.
The saplings you see above represent the 220 million trees the Jewish National Fund has planted, some of which I see looking out my window on the now-green (once bare) Jerusalem Hills.
I say THANK YOU to all those good people in the huge old Golden Book who dared to dream and to give.
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10 comments:

Femin Susan said...

How awesome! Thanks for sharing!
Blessings to you and your family……

Kay said...

I'm sorry about that fighting going on. Are you sure you're safe? That book is unbelievable! Huuuge!!

Hilda said...

That is a magnificent book, but even more beautiful are the sentiments behind its creation!

Grace and Bradley said...

Thanks for the history information and beautiful photos of Jerusalem. We have many Jewish friends in Newton, Massachuestts. Some of my daughter's best friends went back to Isreal in various period of their teenager or adult life. Thanks for visiting our blog.

Cloudia said...

Thank YOU Dina, for explaining the deep longing for Return among the diaspora. People forget (or never knew) the history and only believe propoganda . . . . . Aloha-

spacedlaw said...

Wonderful cover work.

Yaelian said...

What a wonderful book, first time I hear about it! We too put money in the pushke as a children. Lovely posting.

Pietro said...

Wonderful post, thanks for sharing.
Turin Book Fair will be in May (14th-18th) at the Lingotto Exposition Center. During the Fair, a rich calendar of meetings with writers and reviewers.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

roses and wheat in tooled leather...sweet

Dreamybee said...

Oh, wow, that is an amazing book!