One of Europe’s finest collections of classic Judaica was heavily damaged by a rain-induced flood in the basement of a Jewish community center in Russia.
The damage was detailed in a letter obtained by JTA from Dr. Dmitry Elyashevich, rector of the St. Petersburg Institute for Jewish Studies and manager of the collection, to the leadership of the community center – known as Yesod and run by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee – where it was being stored.
“During the night on July 13-14 a catastrophe happened: the basement of Yesod, where the collection of our library is kept in boxes, was completely flooded due to the steady downpour,” Elyashevich wrote. “In the result a part of the books has been lost irretrievably (including valuable editions of the 19th century published in Medzhibozh, Vilno, Slavuta). Abolishment threatens the rest still dry part of the collection due to dampness and inevitably forthcoming distribution of harmful micro flora. The cultural heritage of Russian Jewry has suffered great losses.”