The Leiman Library is a private collection of Judaica located in Kew Gardens Hills, N.Y. Its primary strengths are in Bible, Talmud, Rabbinics, Jewish Thought, and Jewish History. Its over 100,000 items consist of some 30,000 books, plus an even larger collection of pamphlets, scholarly essays, newspapers, newspaper clippings, posters, postcards, photographs, stamps, coins, and related items. The purpose of this site is to make available to the public some of the treasures of the collection.

Some of the special interests of the Library’s curator, Shnayer Leiman, are reflected in the topic headings listed below.
Click on the topic headings for samples of items in the collection, or for scholarly studies and notes based largely on items in the collection. The site is in progress (and will begin with: Far Rockaway Postcards).

Pictured above is the Theological Hall of the Strahov Abbey Library in Prague. The photograph is drawn from Konstantinos Sp. Staikos, The Great Libraries From Antiquity to the Renaissance
(New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 2000), and is reproduced here with the permission of the author and Oak Knoll Press.

 
Far Rockaway Postcards

Far Rockaway is a suburban New York City community in Queens, bordering on Nassau County. It forms the eastern corner of the Rockaway Peninsula, a thin sliver of land jetting out from the south shore of Long Island and into the Atlantic Ocean. Originally an Irish resort town, Jews began to settle in Far Rockaway in the second half of the nineteenth century.  By 1910, some 200 Jewish families lived all year around in Far Rockaway, with an additional 2000 Jewish families spending their summer vacation in rented rooms and hotels in the Far Rockaway area. The original Jewish settlers were mostly Reform Jews, but a steady influx  of Orthodox Jews would ultimately transform Far Rockaway into a “Torah Suburb by the Sea,” famous for its rabbis, scholars, Jewish communal leaders, Jewish institutions – and its philanthropy. The impact of the Far Rockaway Jewish community on the development of Orthodox Jewry in the nearby Five Towns (Inwood, Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, and Hewlett) has been salutary.

Sadly, a history of the Jewish community of Far Rockaway – still thriving today – remains a scholarly desideratum.  Until such a history is written, it is important that all documents relating to the general history – and specifically to the Jewish history – of Far Rockaway, be preserved.  The postcards that follow are divided into two sections: a) general postcards that capture the physicality of Far Rockaway, and its neighboring communities, during much of the twentieth century, and b) postcards that depict the Jewish institutions of Far Rockaway in the twentieth century. Click on any postcard in order to enlarge its image.

For detailed identifications and descriptions of the general postcards, see Marty Nislick’s Far Rockaway Postcard site at rockawaymemories.com and click on “Postcards,” then on “Leiman Collection.” Click on “About” and “Introduction” for a general orientation, then click on the four sections of postcards for the identifications and descriptions. They were done by an anonymous Far Rockaway enthusiast, whose invaluable postcard collection entitled “…and Summer Fades into Yesterday…,” appears on Marty’s site as well. I am indebted to Marty and to his anonymous friend, now my friend as well, for their encouragement and aid in getting the Far Rockaway portion of this site up in a manner that, hopefully, will be pleasant for the viewer.The identifications and descriptions of the postcards of Jewish interest
(on p. 13) are my own.

General (pp. 1-12); Jewish (p. 13)


History of Far Rockaway

Histories of Far Rockaway exist, but they are mostly either outdated or much too abridged. The history materials presented here are divided into
two sections: a)  basic works on the history of Far Rockaway (and related materials), and b) materials relating to the history of the Jewish community of Far Rockaway


Hebrew Institute of Long Island

The Hebrew Institute of Long Island, popularly known by its initials HILI (pronounced: high-lie), was the first Jewish day school in Queens and in Long Island. It was founded in 1937 by Mr. Joseph Yurkowitz (and others) under the name “the Yeshiva of the Rockaways.” HILI’s first home was in the women’s section (i.e., the balcony) of Congregation Anshei Sfard, 208 B. 75th Street, in Arverne. The founding Hebrew principal of HILI was Rabbi Mordechai Shuchatowitz, who also served as rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Edgemere.  The first principal of the secular studies department was Lawrence Shapiro. Rabbi Shuchatowitz was succeeded by Dr. Irving Agus (1946-7), who was succeeded by Rabbi Harold I. Leiman, who served as Principal and Dean from 1948-1960 and 1971-73.

In 1939, the school moved to Far Rockaway, where it acquired the building of a former care center for children of ill mothers called “the Children’s Haven” on 264 B. 19th Street, across from the Genadeen Hotel. The name of the school was changed to the “Hebrew Institute of Long Island.” The first academic year in the new building under the new name was 1939-40. In 1952-3, HILI acquired the neighboring Roche estate, and in September 1953 classes convened for the first time in the C, D, and E buildings (B being reserved for the administration building) on Seagirt Boulevard. HILI high school was founded in 1951-2 (its first academic year) and was housed on the top floor of the old Congregation Shaarey Tefilla building (later: Jewish Center) on Central Avenue in Far Rockaway. It would later move into the E building on the new campus.

From its founding in 1937 until its merger with the Hillel School in Lawrence in 1978, several thousand students graduated from HILI elementary school and HILI high school. Many became prominent as rabbis, educators, academics, scientists, lawyers, doctors, business executives, film producers, novelists, and in many other fields of expertise. Sadly, there is no complete list of HILI graduates and alumni. In 1978, due largely to demographic changes in Far Rockaway, HILI merged with the Hillel School in Lawrence to form a new school called the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (popularly known by its initials as HAFTR). HAFTR has played and continues to play an important role in the Jewish education of thousands of students in the Far Rockaway and Five Towns area.

HILI documents are categorized under the rubrics: a) administration, b) faculty, and c) miscellaneous

Vilna Postcards

a. General
b. Jewish


Kovno Postcards

a. General
b. Jewish


Brief Notes [Zutot]

One who learns Torah or examines scholarly literature often stumbles, as it were, on insights that may provide a solution to a problem or lead others to provide such a solution. Often, these insights take the form of an obvious correction of a printer’s error; or the provision of a source overlooked by a particular scholar; or a suggested interpretation of an enigmatic text; or a query that begs for an answer. These insights, or nuggets of wisdom, being minuscule by nature, cannot and should not be turned into essays – and therefore, for the most part, rightfully do not appear in print. A website affords one the opportunity to record such insights, however insignificant. Each will be provided with an appropriate title. The judicious reader can examine the title and decide whether or not the brief note is worth reading.


Tape Library [select]

A list of tapes of public lectures by Shnayer Leiman appears under this rubric. All the tapes listed are available from Rabbi Milton Nordlicht at nominal cost. To order tapes, call Rabbi Nordlicht at 718 261-7770 or visit his website at TorahShiurim.com. The list was prepared by Rabbi Nordlicht.

Some 18 tapes are available for listening at YU Torah Online yutorah.org

 

 



 
Rabbis on Stamps

“Rabbis on Stamps” is an attempt to gather together in one place all depictions of rabbis on stamps. There have been several attempts to gather together all Jewish stamps on specific topics. See, for example, M. Arbell, Spanish and Portuguese Jews on Postage Stamps [= Los djudios de Espanya i Portugal en la filatelia mundial], Jerusalem, 1988; and F. Berkovich, Jewish Chess Masters on Stamps, Jefferson (North Carolina), 2000. More ambitious attempts have been made to list all Jewish stamps, arranged topically on any and all subjects. See, e.g., J.H. Richter, Judaica on Postage Stamps, Ann Arbor, 1974; and the magnificently produced volume by R.L. Eisenberg, The Jewish World in Stamps, Rockville (Maryland), 2002. Richter’s volume includes approximately 11 samples of rabbis on stamps. The Eisenberg volume, published almost 20 years later, lists approximately 23 samples of rabbis on stamps. This site gathers together some 280 samples of rabbis on stamps!

Our much larger list is due to several important factors:

1. Our goal has been to gather together all rabbis on stamps. No earlier work had this specific goal, and thus the goal was neither pursued nor realized.

2. Our attempt began in 2010, when more stamps were available than in any earlier period.

3. All previous works have confined their efforts largely (or: exclusively) to postage stamps, i.e., to stamps authorized, printed, and sold by governments for the payment of postage. We have included label stamps, i.e., unauthorized stamps printed privately, and used primarily for fundraising by charitable organizations, for promotion of ideological or political causes, and for publicity purposes.

4. We have deliberately defined “rabbis on stamps” broadly, to include as many items as possible. Thus:

a. Any stamp that depicts an identified rabbi, or mentions the name of a rabbi, is included in our collection.

b. Even if the title “rabbi” does not appear on the stamp, but the stamp depicts someone generally recognized as a rabbi, such as the Rambam, it is included in our collection.

c. All first day covers, cacheted covers, or souvenir sheets that depict a rabbi, or mention the name of a rabbi, even if the stamp itself neither depicts nor mentions a rabbi, are included in our collection.

d. All depictions of rabbis on stamps are included, even if the depiction is imaginary. Thus, all stamps with depictions of Rashi and Rambam are included, even though the depictions are clearly imaginary.

e. All depictions of rabbis on stamps, or mention of the names of rabbis on stamps, are included regardless of their Jewish affiliation. It is not our purpose to investigate the legitimacy of a particular rabbi’s ordination. For our purposes, it suffices that the stamp identifies the person depicted, or the name listed, as a rabbi.  Indeed, for our purposes it will suffice that the person mentioned on the stamp is known to have been an ordained rabbi, or is generally recognized – for example, by his entry in Encyclopaedia Judaica – as a rabbi.

f. We have excluded “generic” rabbis, i.e. depictions on stamps of imaginary rabbis who are not and cannot be identified (such as appear on stamps depicting Chagall paintings). We have also excluded famous Jewish figures (mostly philosophers) who were not ordained rabbis, who never functioned as rabbis, and who did not contribute primarily to rabbinic literature. Thus Benedict Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn, and Martin Buber, significant as they were, are not included in “rabbis on stamps.” Indeed, in their respective entries in Encyclopaedia Judaica, none is identified as a rabbi. Nonetheless, one can certainly mount a case to include Mendelssohn on a listing of rabbis on stamps. He was often referred to as מוהר"ר; he wrote letters of approbation for rabbinic works (something not ordinarily done by laymen); and at least one posek ruled that by reciting Mendelssohn’s translation of the Torah (for those not adept at reading Rashi’s commentary on the Torah), one has fulfilled the rabbinic obligation of שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום, no small matter. As a compromise solution, we have decided to include the Mendelssohn stamp here, but not on the official listing of rabbis on stamps. See also Addenda, stamp 239.

g. Indeed, we have included many borderline cases, such as persons who were popularly called “rabbi,” even though they weren’t officially rabbis;  rabbis who were ordained but never functioned as rabbis; and the like. The goal has been to include as many names as possible. With regard to rabbis on stamps, we agree fully with Edwin Markham:

            He drew a circle that shut me out –
            Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
            But Love and I had the wit to win:
            We drew a circle that took him in.
             
5. Click on any stamp in order to enlarge it.

6. The stamps are arranged by rabbi, in chronological order. Thus, the list opens with Rabbi Joshua b. Hananiah, a second century C.E. rabbi, and closes with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, recently retired Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth, alive and well in the 21st century. In every entry, we have listed the name of the rabbi, the date of his death (or birth, if still living), the country of origin of the stamp, and the year of publication of the stamp. When a rabbi is depicted on a label stamp, the letters LS [= label stamp] appear after the date of death of the rabbi, almost always without identification of the country of origin of the stamp. These are often USA, Palestine, or Israel, but since no catalogue of label stamps exists, we must leave it for others to make the proper identifications. We simply write n.p. [= no place]. Similarly, in the case of the label stamps, we almost never give the year of publication, even when we think we know what it is. We simply write n.d [= no date]. On label stamps printed by the Jewish National Fund [= קרן קיימת לישראל], the letters JNF appear in place of LS, followed by the year of publication. Whenever a first day cover is presented, the entry includes the letters FDC [= first day cover] after the date of death of the rabbi. Whenever a souvenir sheet is presented, the entry includes the letters SS [= souvenir sheet] after the date of death of the rabbi.

7. Properly done, each stamp listed should be catalogued by year of publication, size, color, denomination, imprints (if any), professional catalogue number, and the like. We have neither the ability nor the inclination to undertake such a massive and painstaking project. Should our listing of rabbis on stamps stimulate a professional philatelist to undertake such a project, והיה זה שכרי.

8. This, at best, is a provisional listing of rabbis on stamps. We are well aware that many other stamps with depictions of rabbis exist, often with different colors and denominations than the ones included on our list. Unfortunately, those stamps have not reached us. We have only listed stamps in the Leiman Library, or if not in the Library, stamps that we have seen, held in our hands, and scanned (often from the collection of my son, R. Akiva Leiman; I am deeply grateful to him for sharing in this project). Readers are encouraged to send in scans of rabbis on stamps that we have missed. We will be delighted to post them with full acknowledgement.
            
9. We believe that educators will find these stamps useful as teaching aids. For iconographers, they provide yet another source for the study of rabbinic iconography. For social historians, they provide a window into the mindset of a specific culture. Thus, using Israeli stamps as an example, it is important to assess which rabbis were remembered on stamps, which were ignored, and why.

10. Since we are perhaps the first to include label stamps in a catalogue of rabbis on stamps, we include in an appendix label stamps commemorating the life of Sarah Schenierer (d. 1935). While certainly not a rabbi (she never perceived of herself as a rabbi; none of her contemporaries ever imagined that she was a rabbi), Sarah Schenierer was a Jewish educator of no less import than many of the rabbis – who were primarily Jewish educators – who are included on the list of rabbis on stamps. These label stamps are rare and merit being recorded in an appendix to rabbis on stamps.

11. "Rabbis on Stamps" was last updated on January 1, 2014. The new entries are arranged by rabbi, in chronological order. They appear in the Addenda, on p. 13. These are followed by the Appendix, on p. 14, which displays the Sarah Schenierer label stamps.

Rabbis on Stamps (pp. 1-14)


Bibliography of Publications [select]

A chronological listing of published studies by Shnayer Leiman appears under this rubric.


Texts of Publications [select]

The full texts of select publications by Shnayer Leiman are made available to the interested reader under this rubric.
The publications are arranged by title, in the order of their appearance in print.

Click on the title in order to retrieve the text.




 
  Unless indicated otherwise, all materials on this site are from the Leiman Library and may be copied and shared freely with proper attribution.
  Comments and queries are welcome, and may be sent to curator@leimanlibrary.com