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Poet and researcher, Jerusalem

  • Estimated number of books: 4,000 (divided between Germany and Jerusalem)

  • Prominent genres: Poetry, art books, studies in Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, gender and sexuality

  • Languages: Hebrew, English and some German

  • Method of arrangement: By subject

  • Lending policy: "Yes, but only for a specified number of days"

  • Most widely represented writer in the library: "A poet, as it happens. Haim Gouri. The poet closest to my heart since my youth."

  • Oldest book in the library: "'Heart,' by Ednondo De Amicis. A book that can still thrill me today. Who can forget Garrone, the boy who represents the good and the pure in this world?"

  • First book purchased for the library: "'Dialogical Philosophy from Kierkegaard to Buber,' by Hugo Bergman. I bought it with money I saved up from work during summer vacation at the age of 14. Even though Berman is the most cordial writer I know in the realm of philosophy, it was not until 20 years later that the penny fell for me about the importance of his remarks on Buber."

  • Most recent book acquired for the library: "Prof. Alexander Rofeh's book 'An Introduction to the Literature of the Bible.' I am surprised at how riveting such a dry and pedantic book can be for me. Rofeh is friendly to the nonprofessional reader in the field of biblical research, and this book aroused thoughts about our society, about taboos of knowledge and about the education I received in my childhood."

  • Most expensive book you bought: "'The Encyclopedia of Religions,' edited by Mircea Eliade."

  • Most beloved book in library: "'An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum.' Hillesum, a young Jewish Dutch woman, could have left Westerbork concentration camp, but chose to stay there with her family, and in the end died in Auschwitz, after helping everyone she could along the way. In our new terminology, Hillesum was a woman close to enlightenment, but in contrast to most of the 'spiritual teachers' of our time, one can believe Hillesum's everyday mysticism, because only through the crucible of this test does it become apparent that it is not 'spiritual' chatter. As I argued in a review I wrote for Haaretz (which stirred waves of opposition from Dutch Jewry, of all places!), this text will ultimately enter the canon of Jewish theology."

  • The book in the library to which you return most: "'A Tzaddik in Our Time,' Simcha Raz's book on Rabbi Aryeh Levin. Levin was the personification of good on earth. An exemplary figure who represents what Levinas called 'a religion for adults.'"

  • Book you have been unable to finish: "'The Star of Redemption,' by Franz Rosenzweig. I can't understand it."

  • Book you want but can't find: "Martin Buber's 'A Land of Two Peoples.'"

  • Favorite book jacket in the library: "The one for my book 'Higanu le'elohim' [We Reached God]. I found the painting by Betty Ayala (a girl with Down's syndrome) thrown on the floor, but knew immediately that it had been painted specifically for the jacket of the book."

  • Funniest/silliest book in the library: "'The Red Book of Jokes,' by Danny Kerman. I can't remember a joke for more than five minutes after reading it, so the book makes it possible for me to always laugh anew. But it's far from being a silly book. I constantly amuse myself with the idea of revealing publicly the secrets I find there."

  • The book that drew you close to your occupational field: "The Talmud. But I fell in love with it only after I was liberated from the coercive education system in which I grew up."

  • The line or paragraph you love most, from among the books in the library: "It's an article, not a paragraph: 'Elohiut' [a variation on the Hebrew word for divinity], by Adi Zemach, which appeared in the philosophical journal Iyun (vol. 52, 5763). He argues that rational thought should lead every person to the awareness that spiritual entities exist outside the familiar physical world. If that is true, it changes completely the whole course of a man's life."