Good Thursday morning!
Ed. note: In observance of Shavuot and Memorial Day, the next issue of Your Daily Phil will arrive on Tuesday, May 30. Chag sameach and Shabbat shalom!
In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a new Shavuot study guide based on the teachings of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, and feature an op-ed from Andrés Spokoiny. Also in this newsletter: Yael Schoultz, David Ben-Gurion and Amichai Chikli. We’ll start with an interview with former Ambassador Alfred Moses, who recently purchased the Codex Sassoon on behalf of ANU: Museum of the Jewish People.
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent Jewish Insider, eJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: ‘Times’ reporter goes inside Israel’s identity crisis, 75 years in the making; A pro-Israel progressive, Joe Vogel seeks to make history in Maryland; and Mike Feuer pitches L.A. voters on three decades of ‘idealism.’ Print the latest edition here.
When investor Jacqui Safra put the Codex Sassoon, a 1,100-year-old near-complete copy of the Tanakh, up for sale in mid-February, Alfred H. Moses – a longtime attorney, former U.S. ambassador to Romania and a former president of the American Jewish Committee – decided, without too much deliberation, that he wanted to buy it. And Moses knew where he wanted it to go: Tel Aviv’s ANU: Museum of the Jewish People, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.
Last week, at the auction at Sotheby’s in New York, Moses did just that, bidding $33.5 million. Adding in the additional fees and costs, he ended up paying $38.1 million for the Codex Sassoon, also known as “Codex S1” and “Safra, JUD 002,” making it the most expensive bound book ever purchased, or the second-most when accounting for inflation (after an original copy of the Book of Mormon that was sold in 2017). Moses had never seen the Codex Sassoon when he purchased it, and even now, after paying $38.1 million for it, he still hasn’t.
This week, eJP spoke with Moses, 93, to understand why and how he made up his mind to purchase the codex for ANU.
Judah Ari Gross: Like the rest of the world, we saw your purchase of the codex last week. How did you get involved? Why did you decide to make this gift specifically to ANU?
Alfred Moses: Well, I only bought it because of ANU. I wanted it to be somewhere where it would be available to the Jewish people, not in some rich person’s bank vault. I had been working with ANU for some years. I thought it was the right place. So it’s now available for everyone to see.
JAG: And what do you hope that those Jews get out of this, get out of seeing the book?
AM: I hope that seeing the book will give them a sense of the history of the Jewish people. This is the foundational book of our civilization, of our religion, but also our broader civilization. It encompasses the first 2,000 years of Jewish history. And it’s the only book that’s close to complete. And there is no book that is as old as the Codex Sassoon. So I think people will look at it with pride and, if I may say so, with awe.
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