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On 23 August 2020, the Jewish Museum Berlin is opening its new core exhibition. Until then the museum will be closed for renovations.

The Soncino Society Collection at Our Library

Jewish Tradition Paired with Modern Book Arts

In May 1924, Herrmann Meyer (1901-1972) and the publishers Abraham Horodisch and Moses Marx co-founded the first and only Jewish bibliophile society in Germany, the Soncino Society of Friends of the Jewish Book (Soncino-Gesellschaft der Freunde des jüdischen Buches). Our library possesses a complete collection, with 80 titles, of the publications by the Soncino Society. These stem from the estate of Hermann Meyer and were acquired in 1993.

Where

W. M. Blumenthal Academy, Library
Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin

Jewish Tradition and Modern Book Arts

The Soncino Society coupled Jewish tradition with modern book arts by republishing texts such as Briefe über den Talmud (Letters on the Talmud) by Jean Paul and Emanuel Osmund, translating contemporary literature such as Das Schass meines Grossvaters by Samuel Josef Agnon from the Hebrew, and commissioning Jacob Steinhardt to illustrate the apocryphal sayings of Jesus ben Sirach. For a lavish edition of the Bible, the Soncino Bible Society commissioned the font designer Marcus Behmer to develop a new Hebrew typeface.

Soncino Blätter Magazine and Private Editions for Members

In accordance with the statutes of 1924, the Society's publications were private editions exclusively for its members and were offered to other bibliophile societies at preferential prices. Only the magazine Soncino Blätter, published between 1925 and 1930, addressed a wider audience.

Members

The membership, first capped at 500 and soon raised to 800, united all the currents of German Jewry. Alongside numerous prominent figures from abroad, the member lists also included Jewish fraternal organizations and renowned libraries such as the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana in Amsterdam, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Hebrew National Library in Jerusalem, and the Deutsche Bücherei in Leipzig. The Honor Committee members included Leo Baeck, Max Brod, Martin Buber, Richard Beer-Hofmann, Chaim Bialik, and Hermann Struck.

Soncino-Gesellschaft (en: The Soncino Society)

The Soncino-Gesellschaft der Freunde des jüdischen Buches e.V. was a society of bibliophiles. They maintained Jewish literary culture through yearly member meetings and the publication of bibliophilic prints as well as the literary magazine Soncino-Blätter. They were founded in 1924 and dissolved during the Nazi era.
More on Wikipedia (in German)

Jakob Steinhardt

1887–1968
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Jakob Steinhardt's Neun Holzschnitte zu ausgewählten Versen aus dem Buche Jeschu ben Elieser ben Sirah mit einer Einleitung von Arnold Zweig are accessible as digital copies in the Freimann Collection of the Frankfurt am Main university library.
Download on the UB Frankfurt am Main website (in German)

Constitution of the Soncino Society

You can download the constitution of the Soncino Society (Berlin 1924) as a PDF from the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main library.
Download on the UB Frankfurt am Main website (in German)

Max Brod (1884–1968)

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Martin Buber (1878–1965)

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Richard Beer-Hofmann (1866–1945)

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Hayim Nahman Bialik (1873–1934)

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Hermann Struck (1876–1944)

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Jean Paul (1763–1825)

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Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1888–1970)

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Marcus Behmer (1879–1958)

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Final Assembly and Emigration

The last annual assembly was held in 1931. The last books, published in 1937, had been prepared for printing years earlier. Herrmann Meyer emigrated to Switzerland in 1933 and via Amsterdam to Jerusalem in 1935.

Titelblatt der Satzungen und Mitgliederverzeichnis der Soncino-Gesellschaft der Freunde des jüdischen Buches (1924) mit kleiner Zeichnung eines steinernen Turms

Constitution and member directory of the Soncino-Gesellschaft der Freunde des jüdischen Buches (1924); Jewish Museum Berlin

Digitization of Holdings

In the course of a digitization project in 2016, we digitized these collections and cataloged the related archival documents. In addition, we expanded the library database to make the digital copies available online (show publications in our OPAC). You can find out more about the project on our website.

Soncino Society Collection Title List (in German)

PDF / 0.10 MB / german / not accessible

Download
Old ticket

Admission ticket to the Soncino Society evening, Berlin 24 May 1925; Jewish Museum Berlin

References

  • Brenner, Michael. Jewish Culture in the Weimar Republic.Munich: C. H. Beck Verlag, 2000, 190–194.
  • Bürger, Karin et al., eds. Soncino-Gesellschaft der Freunde des jüdischen Buches. Ein Beitrag zur Kulturgeschichte(Soncino Society of Friends of the Jewish Book: A Contribution to Cultural History), Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2014.
  • Heider, Ulrich. Die Soncino-Gesellschaft der Freunde des jüdischen Buches e. V. (1924–1937). Private edition on the occasion of the eponymous cabinet exhibition during the 2nd Kölner Antiquariatstage, Cologne, 2006.
  • Horodisch, Abraham. "Ein Abenteuer im Geiste. Die Soncino-Gesellschaft der Freunde des jüdischen Buches" (Adventure of the Spirit: The Soncino Society of Friends of the Jewish Book). In: Bibliotheca docet: Festgabe Carl Wehmer. Amsterdam: Verlag der Erasmus-Buchhandlung, 181–208.
  • Jensen, Bernard. Ein Kanon der jüdischen Renaissance. Soncino-Gesellschaft der Freunde des jüdischen Buches. Including an essay by Vera Bendt, Göttingen 2017.

Our Reading Room is open to the public. You can also research using our library’s holdings and some of our collection’s holdings online. To view additional holdings, please contact the responsible curators.

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The contact person for photo reproductions is Valeska Wolfgram (T +49 (0)30 259 93 433, email: fotodoku@jmberlin.de). Loan requests must be made at least six months in advance. For questions regarding administrative processes, please contact Katrin Strube (T +49 (0)30 259 93 417, email: k.strube@jmberlin.de).

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