The National Library of Israel has made a major acquisition of rare Hebrew books and manuscripts. The Valmadonna Trust Library has been jointly purchased with the collectors David and Jemima Jeselsohn in a private sale arranged through Sotheby’s.
The collection, which was assembled over six decades by the recently deceased collector Jack Lunzer, includes more than 10,000 works that show the development of Hebrew printing and the spread of Jewish culture across the world. Highlights include an early copy of the Torah printed in Lisbon in 1491, and one of only two surviving copies of a Haggadah (a text on the rites of the Passover Seder) printed in Prague in 1556. The other copy can be found in the British Museum in London.
The collection will be displayed in the National Library of Israel’s new building next to the Knesset in Jerusalem, which has been designed by the architects Herzog & de Meuron and is due to open in 2020. The building project is part of a programme to make the library’s holdings more accessible to the public and has also involved digitising its collections and creating new cultural and educational programmes.
“The acquisition of the Valmadonna and its arrival in Jerusalem present a tremendous opportunity for the National Library of Israel to further realise the vision of its renewal,” says Oren Weinberg, the director general of the library.