A BRIDGE OF BOOKS
2001 13 mins. Sam Ball
Cost - ?
Sam Ball, who is one of the managers of the San Francisco Jewish Film
Festival, is also an excellent filmmaker. This short documentary is
about one of the great book rescue stories of all time. It shows how the
worldwide movement started by Aaron Lansky, a 23 year old Yiddish
student in NYC, has led to saving more than a million books in Yiddish
from the landfills. In the early 1980s he was told that he could only
find Yiddish books for sale at an obscure bookstore in Amsterdam – or in
the trash in back of homes in NYC. He began collecting books in Yiddish
locally, and found that there were thousands of immigrants who had
brought their Yiddish books to the New World as “homes away from home.”
He now has a beautiful building to house the books and has created
Yiddish book collections in many American universities and other sites
around the world. He claims that with 30,000 members it is the largest
Yiddish organization in the world. For 1,000 years Yiddish was the
dominant language of European Jews. Now it is almost dead. So interns at
his National Yiddish Book Center spend mornings studying Yiddish and in
the afternoon go through the vast number of books waiting for their
tender hands and minds.
I have to commend Ball for making this film. As the destruction at the
San Francisco Public Library revealed so well, there are many people,
including librarians, who are committing true intellectual treason.
Nicholson Baker’s landmark book, “Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault
on Paper” should be read by all book lovers. Also, all book lovers
everywhere – which unfortunately seems to exclude many computer obsessed
librarians – should see this film. They will never think of books in
quite the same way.
Bridge of Books, A
895 29th Avenue #104
San Francisco, CA 94121
Note – there is a chapter in Nicholas Basbane’s new book, “Patience and
Fortitude”, about the Yiddish Book Center. Basbane also has an excellent
chapter in this book about the destruction of the San Francisco Public
Library and the literary hero of the battle, Nicholson Basbane.
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