Canadians Donate $1.1m for Book Translation to Boost Shalem Center

The works selected will be taken from a list of 100 of the most important books studied by American college students. The project will being funded by Gilbert and Elisa Palter of Toronto.

Mika Timor
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Mika Timor

The Jerusalem-based Shalem Center has received a $1.1 million contribution from a Canadian couple to pay for the translation of dozens of classic works of nonfiction into Hebrew. The works selected will be taken from a list of 100 of the most important books studied by American college students. The project will being funded by Gilbert and Elisa Palter of Toronto.

The donation will enable the center to translate about 35 classics, including John Milton's 17th-century "Aeropagitica"; the 18th-century treatise "A Treatise of Human Nature," by Scottish philosopher David Hume; and the 1936 work "Ideology and Utopia" by Hungarian-Jewish sociologist Karl Mannheim.

Buying books during book week. Credit: Alon Ron

The Palters said they are providing the funding in an effort to further plans by the center to open a liberal arts college called Shalem College in 2013, which will combine studies in the humanities and political science. Specifically, the curriculum is to include economics, sociology, literature, history and study of the Bible. According to Shay Porat, vice president for external affairs at Shalem, the college will aim to enhance its students' abilities to express themselves verbally and in writing.

The Palters have in the past supported Jewish educational institutions serving children and adults around the world, but this is their first donation to an Israeli institution. The donation is expected to cover an estimated cost of thousands of dollars per translation, which Porat noted will include meticulous editing.

Decisions regarding which books to translate have been made jointly by the donors and the steering committee of the center's Shalem Press.

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