The personal Judaica collection of Touro College’s founder and long-standing first President, Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander, is available for all to use at the Lander College for Men in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens.
Shortly after the passing of Touro College founder and long-time President Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander, of blessed memory, the Touro College Libraries were privileged to receive his personal library as a donation from the Lander family. His Judaica books were cataloged and given their rightful place of honor at the Lander College for Men.
Occasionally, however, some surprises were found in the many rooms filled with books in Dr. Lander’s home. Perhaps none more so than a small, well-kept Birnbaum daily prayer book, which, when opened, revealed a familiar name inscribed in the owner’s bookplate.
Well, well…what have we here?
In his 1988 obituary, The New York Times referred to Dr. Philip Birnbaum as the world’s “most obscure best-selling author.” After emigrating to the United States from Poland in 1923, Birnbaum brought his English translation of daily prayer, Ha-Siddur Ha-Shalem to the Hebrew Publishing Company in New York in 1949. The little books gained immediate acceptance, went on to sell over 300,000 copies and became well known to generations of Americans.
In January 2012, the book was reunited with its original owner—none other than current Touro College President, Dr. Alan Kadish, who had received it in 1970 upon his graduation from Yeshiva Dov Revel.
As Touro College Chancellor Rabbi Doniel Lander informed the library, he and Dr. Kadish were childhood friends; thus it became clearer as to how the book happened to be found among Dr. Lander’s beloved collection. In accordance with Dr. Kadish’s wishes, the book now resides in the Touro College and University System Archives, where it serves as a wonderful link from Touro’s beginnings to its present and future.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2012 edition of the TCL Newsletter. All images provided by and property of the Touro College and University System Archives.