Albany Students Discover Vintage Shanghai Seforim

In the course of their “Title Page Project” commemorating Hey Teves, students at Maimonides Hebrew Day School in Albany, NY, examined and discussed dozens of antique books including many seforim printed in the 1800s.

In preparation for Hey Teves, students at Maimonides Hebrew Day School in Albany, NY, launched a unique “Title Page Project” scanning and scrutinizing the amazing front pages of a unique collection of crumbling brown-paged Seforim found in the school library’s old section.

The students discovered the treasured collection of books that their Rosh Yeshiva’s father, the mashpia Reb Moshe Rubin a”h, had brought along with him to Montreal, Canada after World War II, during which the Yeshivas of Lubavitch, Chachamei Lublin and Mir spent 5 years in faraway Shanghai, China which was then occupied by Japan.

Rabbi Yisroel Rubin explained to his students the high-value “mileage” of these precious Seforim. Of course, modern publications are easier to read, with new upgraded features such as clearer, easier fonts, additional explanations and better footnotes. But these old books carry within them accumulated meaningful “miles” of their long journeys all around the world, the daring circumstances that the Sefer survived, and the amazing stories of perseverance of the people who once learned from that Sefer.

Most of the title pages pictured were Seforim printed in Shanghai during WWII, by the Lubavitch, Chachmei Lublin and Mir Yeshiva students who survived the Holocaust there. Some of these seforim were printed in Europe years earlier that they carried along while escaping from the Nazis.

Pictured above are enlarged copies from over fifty title pages they scanned, examined and discussed in a special class. Much can be learned from a title page: You can see in which city it was published, who the publishers were, in what year, and it might also tell you who was the owner of that book.

It is indeed inspiring to see the diversity of Sefarim that the Yeshiva students took the time and effort to reprint Sefarim during those turbulent and difficult times.

Among the Seforim are an Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch printed in 1875, a typewritten copy of the Rebbe Rashab’s Rana”t Maamorim printed in Shanghai with a handwritten title page cover, a Rambam printed in Shanghai in 1943, a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch from Warsaw in 1892, a Gemorah Shabbos printed in Shanghai by “Torah-Ohr” in 1943, a Machzor printed in Furth 1845, a set of Maharal of Prague, the Kedushas Levi, Noam Elimelech and Tzidkas-Hatzdik of Lublin, Shitah Mekubetzes, etc. among others.

Albany’s Maimonides School is now running the annual Raffle-Auction Chanukah fundraiser, a smaller out-of-town school that offers everyone better odds of winning. Tickets can be bought until Thursday morning, the 7th day of Chanukah at:

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