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Otsar ha-Sifrut

Hebrew publication, issued between 1887 and 1896 and again in 1902. Otsar ha-sifrut (Treasury of Literature), known also as Bet otsar ha-sifrut, appeared in five volumes between 1887 and 1896 and then was intended as a monthly paper; however, only a single issue was published in 1902. The first volume was published in Jarosław and was edited by Shalti’el Yitsḥak Graber, assisted by the author Re’uven Asher Braudes; later volumes were published in Kharkov.

Self-consciously and carefully aesthetic, Otsar ha-sifrut was divided into two primary parts: “Otsar ha-Torah veha-ḥokhmah,” an extensive section that included reviews, biographies, articles about history, discussions of scriptures, and bibliographic lists; and “Otsar ha-melitsah veha-shir,” which contained literary works. Graber invited the best scholars, authors, and poets to contribute, including younger figures such as Sha’ul Tchernichowsky.

Graber, like Naḥum Sokolow (editor of Ha-Asif) and others, proclaimed that he would not take a political stand on the Ḥibat Tsiyon movement. He regarded scholarly Jewish studies as a solution to the problem of assimilation and a way to develop foundations for a national outlook. Unlike most maskilim, who published satirical works at the expense of Orthodox Jewry, he avoided a confrontational approach.

Writers for the annual included Shim‘on Bernfeld, Heinrich Graetz, Shelomoh Mandelkern, Avraham Ya‘akov Paperna, Eli‘ezer Zweifel, Shemu’el Leib Zitron, and El‘azar Schulman. Beginning with the third volume (1890), the literary portion became more extensive, and contributors included (in addition to Braudes and Tchernichowsky) Mikhah Yosef Berdyczewski, Avraham Ber Gottlober, Yehudah Leib Gordon, and Yehudah Leib Levin. A clear Zionist line was manifest in the final issue in the monthly format, published in January 1902 under the editorship of Mosheh Margel.

Suggested Reading

Menuḥah Gilbo‘a, Leksikon ha-‘itonut ha-‘ivrit ba-me’ot ha-shemoneh ‘esreh veha-tesha‘ ‘esreh (Tel Aviv, 1992), pp. 330–333; Joseph Klausner, Historyah shel ha-sifrut ha-‘ivrit ha-ḥadashah, vol. 5, pp. 364–365 (Jerusalem, 1955).



Translated from Hebrew by Rami Hann