RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Jose Mindlin, a Jewish bibliophile who owned the largest private library in Latin America, has died.
Mindlin died Sunday in Brazil. He was 95.
He owned more than 38,000 books and was a member of the prestigious Brazilian Academy of Letters. In 2006, Mindlin donated about half of his collection to the University of Sao Paulo, mostly on topics related to Brazilian studies.
A building on the university’s campus will be built specifically to maintain the massive library, and will be named after the Guita and Jose Mindlin Foundation.
After retiring from the business world, Mindlin was able to dedicate his time to a passion he had since he was 13 years old: collecting and preserving rare books. The first rare edition in his collection was "Discours sur l’Histoire Universelle," by Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, published in 1740.
Mindlin, the son of Ukrainian parents, had occupied several public positions in the cultural field in Sao Paulo, including secretary of culture.
"He was a giant of the Brazilian culture," Sao Paulo Mayor Gilbero Kassab said. "His legacy is the library he left, the result of a life dedicated to the books. Today it’s an asset of all Brazilians."
Henry Sobel, emeritus rabbi of Latin America’s largest Jewish congregation, the 2,000-family Congregacao Israelita Paulista, said that Mindlin’s life was a book itself.
"He was a righteous man who could see ethics in politics and culture," Sobel said. "I felt so little when I was in his library. His greatest book was called Jose Mindlin."