Literary Masterpieces on Display

January 6, 2011 by Susan Bures
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Three generations of the descendants of Rabbi Leib Aisack Falk have participated in the opening of an exhibition at The Great Synagogue on masterpieces from the Falk Library.

Rabbi Falks' daughter Nina Glasser and granddaughter Debbie Sleigh

The Library, which contains an immensely varied and valuable collection of books in many languages, was founded on Rabbi Falk’s own library which was purchased by the shule when he died.

The exhibition, titled The Beauty of Books – Masterpieces from the Falk Library, is a tribute to Rabbi Falk not only as a book collector and bibliophile but as a remarkable artist and craftsman.

The books on display are grouped in various categories: Bibles and Prayer Books, Commentaries and Scholarship, Non-Jewish Commentaries on Judaism, Travels in the Holy Land, Australiana and Diverse Delights.

There is also a “look and learn” table with facsimile copies of famous Haggadot and other works so visitors can page through them.

Amongst the displayed collection are some remarkable gems, including The Hope of Israel (1650), widely believed to have been the work which influenced Oliver Cromwell to enable Jews to return to Britain, curator Brittany Freelander said.

Other historically precious work include De Arte Cabalistica  by Johann von Reuchlin (1517) and Isaac Nathan’s Hebrew Melodies, the work in which he set Lord Byron’s poems to music.

The exhibition was opened by Nina Glasser, Rabbi Falk’s daughter, and was followed by a fascinating lecture on Rabbi Falk as an army chaplain delivered by his granddaughter Debbie Sleigh.

Debbie also showed a golden Magen David which was fixed to an Ark carried into the battle areas by then Chaplain Falk and housing a Torah scroll/

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