First Individual Tractates of the Talmud Printed in Europe After the Holocaust. Tractate Keddushin [WITH] Tractate Nedarim. (2 vols. complete)
St. Ottilien/ Munich: Rabbinical Representative by Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the American Occupied Zone [sic], 1946. First edition. Hardcover. Elephant folios.
Keddushin: 192, 32, 28pp. Rebound in modern tan soft leather with blind-stamped star of David on the front cover. Blind-stamped tooling, and gilt lettering lettering on the spine. Raised bands. Decorative endpapers.
Nedarim: 206, 32pp. Rebound in modern tan soft leather with blind-stamped star of David on the front cover. Blind-stamped tooling and black lettering on the spine. Raised bands. Decorative endpapers.
Title pages illustrated in yellow and black, depict both the suffering and the hope for redemption of the Jewish people. The bottom shows life in the concentration camp and the top shows the yearning for a new Jerusalem. The images are attributed to the artist Grisha Rosenkranz*, who was active in the DP camps. Text in Hebrew states: "As afflicted prisoners, there we sat, learned, and prayed in secret."
These individual volumes were the precursors to the famous full 19-volume set known as the "Survivors' Talmud" (or the "US Army Talmud"), so-called because it was the first complete Talmud printed in Europe after the Holocaust. At the end of the war Jewish survivors and residents of the DP camps had few or no books. The efforts to provide resources to Jews without access to Talmud study in the direct aftermath of the war fell primarily upon the shoulders of two Lithuanian Rabbis, Samuel Abba Sneig chief rabbi of the US occupied zone, and Samuel Jacob Rose, both survivors of Dachau.
Utilizing two odd volumes of the 1886 Romm edition of the Talmud printed in Vilna (tractates Keddushin and Nedarim), found at the monastery in St. Ottillien, they began their endeavor. Printing plates from these volumes were created using a photomechanical offset process. It should be noted that when the full set of the Talmud was eventually published, it was derived from the later Vilna editions, which contain additional rabbinic commentary not found in the earlier editions.
The rabbis' intent from the very beginning was to print a complete set of the Talmud, however these two tractates were the only ones found in good enough to reproduce. Later, with the assistance of Rabbis Philip S. Bernstein and Abraham Klausner, they were able to print a complete set in Heidelberg in 1948 (The Survivors' Talmud).
Bindings with some minor to light instances of scratches, stains, scuffing and/or smudges to the covers. Interior of Keddushin, with pages age toned and a bit brittle, with a few closed tears to the edges throughout, and a few instances of minor to light stains in the margins. The first few leaves including the title page, foxed and stained in the margins. Interior of Nedarim mostly clean, with some staining and rippling along the top of pages from about p.120 onward, and a few other sporadic light stains throughout, with text mostly unaffected. Ink stamps and handwritten names of previous owners of the Nedarim volume located in the top and bottom margins of the title page and in the bottom margin of the final page. Bindings in very good- to very good+, interiors in very good- condition overall. vg- to vg+. Item #51729
Alternate title: Survivors' Talmud
*Grisha Rosenkranz (aka Gregory Rosenkranz) was a Lithuanian-born Jewish artist and Hebrew teacher. In addition to his work on the illustrations for these volumes of the Talmud, he was an active artist in the DP camps after the war, and was known to have designed a theater sets for a play produced in the camps. Later he emigrated to the United States eventually settling in Miami, where he taught Hebrew, Jewish studies and art. He also created art for the PBS tv program 'Living Hebrew'.
With thanks to Jackie Ben Efraim for her research on these Talmuds. See her illustrated presentation ’Survivors’ Talmud' on YouTube.