A board-game for learning Hebrew, housed in an illustrated wooden box. It was published by Moriah, the famous press established by Hayyim Nahman Bialik, Y. Ḥ. Rawnitzki, and others in Odessa, 1902. This game has 13 boards with words spelled out in vocalized Hebrew; the game involves finding the right card for each individual letter. The game comes with a page of instructions for children and teachers (אופן המשחק), making it seem very modern indeed! We do not know when this board-game was published; Gordon suggests “ca. 1920” (Gordon 2005, p. 40). This seems just a bit late to us on stylistic grounds, and it is worth noting that in 1916, Sh. Kripits, the author of this board-game, published one other Hebrew book for children with Moriah in Odessa: Ma'aseh be-Gur Arieh [The Story of a Lion Cub].
An adventure tale in the tradition of Sinbad the Sailor set in the Islamic east. Originally written in German by Wilhelm Hauff (1802-1827), the Hebrew translation was made from a Russian version of the book published by Knebel Press in Moscow, one of the most prestigious Russian publishers in the early 20th century. The Orientalizing illustrations likewise come from the Russian edition and were created by Dmitry Mitrohin (1893-1973), a well-known Russian illustrator.
On the verso of the cover of the Hebrew book is a stylized Tree of Life, probably commissioned from Mitrohin as well. The name "Gamliel" nestles at the base of the tree, turning it into a memorial to the publisher's 4-year old son for whom the series is named. This is the only book in the series published in Odessa that bears the date of publication and may well have been the first title published in the Gamliel Library.
Original story written in Swedish by Richard Gustaffson (1840-1918), with illustrations by Dmitry Mitrohin (1893-1973), the well-known Russian artist. This is an adventure tale, narrated in the form of a dialogue between a ship and a tugboat. The story begins with the ship, all sleek and new, grumbling at having to tow an ancient tugboat. In reply, the tugboat recounts his younger days as the swiftly sailing "Eagle of the Seas" and his many adventures in faraway lands. Fascinated by his tales, the ship not only becomes reconciled to the tugboat but indeed grows to love it and to find it beautiful. The story, which can also be read as a parable of youth and old age, has been translated with skill and humor into biblical Hebrew.
Illustrations by חבורת ציירים [A Band of Painters].
This is one of three books first published by Omanut Press in "Moscow-Odessa" that appears to exist only in the Library of Congress. The only other known copies are from the second edition published in Frankfurt am-Main. It presents a folk-tale found in many eastern cultures; here adapted into Hebrew apparently by Ahad ha-Am [Asher Ginsberg], famous Zionist writer and thinker (Gordon 2005, p. 102). The booklet was illustrated by the “Band of Painters” (חבורת ציירים), four young students from the Odessa School of Art. They signed their names collectively in the books they illustrated for the Gamliel Library, using their last name alone. The four young artists were Jacob Apter (1896-1941), Yefim Higer (1899-1955), Aaron Kravchov. (1896-1941), and Moses Mutselmakher (1900-1961). On stylistic grounds, Ayala Gordon suggests that these illustrations were created by only one of the four artists: Aaron Keravtsov.
The tale relates the journey of a father, a son, and a donkey, and, contrary to the hopeful title, it ends with no one being pleased at all - except maybe the donkey! The two stylized roundels on the cover below (right) provide publishing information: the roundel on the left reads “Band of Painters” and lists the four artists by their last names alone; the one on the right reads Sifriyah Gamliel – “Gamliel Library.” The place of publication (Moscow – Odessa) appears on the back cover, without a date.
Illustrations by חבורת ציירים [A Band of Painters].
This is one of three books first published by Omanut Press in "Moscow-Odessa" that appears to exist only in the Library of Congress. The only other known copies are from the second edition published in Frankfurt am-Main. This is a rhymed tale for Chanukah apparently written by Zalman Shneour (1887-1959), eminent Hebrew and Yiddish writer. The booklet was illustrated by the "Band of Painters" in Odessa. More specifically, it appears that two of these four artists had a hand in the illustrations; the brightly-colored interior scenes (almost Matisse-like in style and color) were apparently created by Apter; the images with the charming goat (who whisks off his spectacles to peer at the dreidel) can probably be attributed to Mutselmakher.
Illustrations by חבורת ציירים [A Band of Painters].
This is one of three books first published by Omanut Press in "Moscow-Odessa" that appears to exist only in the Library of Congress. The only other known copies are from the second edition published in Frankfurt am-Main. The booklet presents a medieval fox-fable adapted by Ḥayim Naḥman Bialiḳ, (1873-1934) from a story written by Berechiah ha-Nakdan, a Jewish scholar who apparently lived in England at the end of the 12th century. Like Berechiah, Bialik wrote his story in rhymed Hebrew prose, but he adapted it to the needs of a younger audience. The charming illustrations are attributed collectively to the "Band of Painters", but as Ayala Gordon points out, they can probably be attributed to one artist in particular: Moses Mutselmakher.
Published/Created: Frankfurt am Main - Moscow - Odessa: Omanut Press, 
Unlike the other six books published in the Gamliel Library of Omanut Press (nos. 13-18) and now in the collections of the Library of Congress, Five Blind Men does not bear the imprint “Moscow – Odessa,” but rather “Frankfurt am Main - Moscow – Odessa.” Nor was it acquired by the Library of Congress together with the other six titles. This book was acquired only in 2016. Whether the copy printed in Frankfurt was a first edition or a reprint of one published earlier (i.e., in Moscow - Odessa) remains an open question. Perhaps one day a copy bearing the imprint “Moscow-Odessa” will come to light, resolving the question once and for all.
An Indian folk tale adapted by an unknown translator from a story “by Tolstoy.” This is a Hebrew version of the well-known parable about the hazards of making assumptions without enough information. The illustrations are attributed collectively to the “Band of Painters” (see above, nos. 13-18); Ayala Gordon suggests Yefim Higer as the specific artist at work here.
The title of this book is hard to translate. It has the same name as the biblical Book of Chronicles, but as the title for a children’s book the words clearly revert to a more literal sense, so that we might translate the title as The Book of Things or The Book of Words. Trust Bialik to come up with such a cheeky wordplay! Ophir Press was founded as a joint venture between Hayyim Nahman Bialik and a young Jewish couple in Berlin, Jacob Seidmann and Tom [Martha] Seidmann Freud (1892-1930), niece of the famed psychoanalyst. The venture produced several beautiful children’s books but ended in disaster – personal and financial - for the young couple and their infant daughter. This was their first book (see also below, no. 24).
A Hebrew alphabet-book often considered one of the most beautiful books of its kind. It was illustrated by Zeʼev Raban (1890-1970), perhaps the foremost representative of the Bezalel School of Art founded in Jerusalem in 1906 by Boris Schatz. Here we find a wonderful example of Bezalel's distinctive style, melding Art Nouveau with motifs from ancient Near Eastern art and archaeology.
Children’s poems by Saul Tchernichowsky (1875-1943), one of the great modern Hebrew poets, best known, perhaps, for his sonnet-cycle To the Sun and for his idylls of East European Jewish life. The book was originally intended for publication with Ahinoar Press in Moscow, but the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1919 put an end to those plans. The book also had another name, for it was originally called צפורת הגן, a title which translates as The Garden Butterfly, since צפורת was the word used for “butterfly” before פרפר became accepted in modern Hebrew (It is found, for example, in Bialik's Tom Thumb, first published in the pages of Ha-Shahar, a children's period published in Warsaw in1911.)
The illustrations in this book are notable for being the early work of Nahum Gutman (1898-1980), a young artist destined to become one of the most influential artists in the State of Israel. The son of S. Ben-Zion, a pioneer in Hebrew education who moved his young family from Russia to Tel-Aviv in 1905, Gutman brought a distinctly new style to Israeli art. This books shows Gutman at the crossroads of his artistic development, with some of the illustrations evolving into the style that was to become his hallmark.
Published/Created: Berlin - Jerusalem: Ophir Press,1923.
Illustrations by Tom [Martha] Seidmann-Freud
This is the second book to be published by Ophir Press (see also no. 21, above). It contains Hebrew versions of such well-known tales as The Princess and the Pea (below right). Intriguingly, the illustration for one story (The Stars that Turned into Golden Dinars, below left) is amazingly reminiscent of a figure that was to leap into world fame in the coming decades: the “Little Prince” of Antoine Saint-Exupéry, first published in 1943.
Published/Created: Berlin - London: Hotsaʼat Rimon, 1923.
Illustrations by A. Bihem and Rachel Shalit-Marcus.
Classic tales for children adapted into Hebrew by Hayyim Nahman Bialik. Colorful illustrated cover, with black and white illustrations inside. The book was written on stone plates by Francesca Baruch (1901-1989), renowned graphic artist and Hebrew typographer from Hamburg, Germany, who settled in Jerusalem in 1933.
With calligraphic woodcuts and Hebrew translation by Grunya Kramer.
Limited-edition artist’s book with nine calligraphic pages with woodcuts on japan paper. Decorative marbled paper boards with German inscription by artist and translator Grunya Kramer on the inside front cover and dated Hamburg, 3.VI.25.
Published/Created: Berlin - Vienna: Hotsaʼah ʻIvrit "Menorah", .
Illustrations by Else Wenz-Vietor.
Hebrew translation of a book originally published in German under the title Hochzeit im Walde with rhymes by Adolf Holst and illustrations by Else Wenz-Vietor (Leipzig: Alfred Hahns Verlag, ca. 1921). The charming Hebrew rhymes are adapted to a Jewish audience, chuppah and all. Though undated, the Hebrew version was certainly created after 1913, the date suggested by one prominent scholar (Gordon 1995, p. 118); the German text was only published in 1921. Ofek suggests 1924, a far likelier date considering that it was part of a Hebrew series published between 1923-1925 (Ofek, 1988, p. 552).
Else Wenz-Vietor, who was not Jewish, was a prolific illustrator of children’s books. She was born in Poland in 1882 and lived most of her life in Germany, where she died in 1973.
This book was published by Devir, the press founded by Hayyim Nahman Bialik upon settling in Tel-Aviv in 1924. The cover informs us only that it was “adapted from a German poem” - but that poem turns out to have been written by none other than Richard Dehmel (1863-1920), the famous German poet. The book was originally published in German together with the lovely illustrations by Y. Gleitsman in Wiesbaden, 1923 (Gordon 2005, p. 124).
This is a very dark tale of a beautiful bird with a broken wing, cruelly mocked and mistreated by all who see it. Though not of Jewish origin, the poetic translation lends itself to an allegorical reading of the Jewish People in Exile. We know from the illustrations that the book was clearly intended for children, but whether it was truly suitable for them seems open to question.
Bialik’s sparkling version of four classic folk-tales brings the “Father of Modern Hebrew Poetry” together with Nahum Gutman, one of the most important Israeli artists both before and after the founding of Israel in 1948 (see above, no. 23). Gutman’s vision of the cityscape in King Solomon’s times is remarkably reminiscent of the new city of Tel-Aviv then rising out of the sands – Solomon’s palace looking rather like the city’s landmark Herzliya High School! - bringing a wonderful sense of lightness and modernity to King Solomon’s time.
Another King Solomon tale retold by Bialik was published in Frankfurt am Main in 1924: שלמה המלך והאדרת המעופפת [King Solomon and the Flying Cape: a Legend Told by Ch. N. Bialik; PJ5053 .B5 S45]. The Art Nouveau illustrations by N. Yedel, which turn King Solomon into something of a Russian boyar, were criticized by Ayala Gordon as lacking in charm (Gordon 2005, p. 80).
Ha-Ginah (“The Garden”) Press was founded by Yehiel Hailperin (1880-1942), pioneer in the field of Hebrew education for children. Born in the village of Priluki, in the Ukraine, Hailperin moved to Odessa at the start of World War I and eventually settled in the Land of Israel.
Hailperin established the first Hebrew kindergarten in Warsaw, 1909, and the name of the press he subsequently founded in Jerusalem alludes to his work in that field. Ha-Ginah published four illustrated booklets in a series called סיפורים וציורים לתינוקות (Stories and Pictures for Toddlers), three of which include music for nursery rhymes intended for use in the up and coming Hebrew kindergartens. Several of these booklets were illustrated by members of the same “Band of Painters” involved with Omanut Press in Odessa (see above, nos. 16-18), but in this series the artists are named individually rather than as a group. Moses Mutselmakher, who illustrated the book before us now, created a different pair of animals for every page, each with its own nursery rhymes set to music.
Like the first booklet in the series Stories and Paintings for Toddlers (above, no. 30), The Goose and Her Goslings was illustrated by a member of the “Band of Painters” in Odessa, Aaron Kravchov. The colors of the beautiful lithographs, printed at Grafica Bezalel, remain deep and vibrant to this day.
An original tale by Nobel Prize-winning author S. Y. Agnon, with illustrations by Ze’ev Raban (see above, no. 22). In this story, Agnon weaves together traditional symbols of Zion and the Zionist dream, leading a young boy from Eastern Europe to his new home in the Land of Israel.
Traditional Jewish tale adapted by Yehiel Hailperin (see above, no. 30) and illustrated by M. Gur-Arieh (1891-1951), one of the leading artists of the Bezalel School and best-known, perhaps, for his striking silhouettes. The illustrations reflect the fascination which many new immigrants to Israel from Eastern Europe and Russia felt towards the Yemenite Jews, regarding them as the embodiment of a more “authentic” Judaism.
A play for school-children emphasizing Zionist values. The narrative has a strong tendency towards pathos and moves from a small East-European shtetl to Alexandria, Egypt, where the young hero is cruelly used on his way to a new life in a kibbutz in Israel. The play’s lovely cover is evocative of the pioneering period in pre-State Israel and bears a handwritten dedication by the author. This copy of the book was donated to the Hebraic Section in 2015 by Levon Avdoyan, Armenian Specialist at the Library of Congress, in memory of Paul Steven Hurwit (1945-2015).
15 colored plates show children celebrating the Jewish holidays against a backdrop of the Holy Land, with an emphasis on pioneer values. The artist, Ze’ev Raban, weaves his name and that of Bezalel (see above, no. 22) into the stylized borders framing each illustration together with the name of Jerusalem and the date: 1925 (תרפ"ה). The light and cheerful poems were written by Levin Kipnis (1894-1990), one of the best-known and most prolific children’s authors in Hebrew, equally renowned for his poetry and prose.