A Handful of Leaves : excerpts By Rebecca Jefferson [ Following the performance with song by Jim Liversidge, Curator, Popu lar Culture Collections in Composing A Heart and other immigrant stories ... presented by Bess de Farber, Rebecca Jefferson, Jim Liversidge at the Nadine M. McGuire Theatre and Dance Pavillion G13 on November 16, 2012 ] For those of you who know me: F my name is Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica here at the University of Florida. The Price Library of Judaica grew from a core collection amassed by a Rabbi Leonard Mishkin in Chicago At the time of its acquisition, ong collection was the lar gest and best, private collection in the country. UF purchased it in 1977 and it has since grown to over 100,000 items covering the broad range of Jewish Studies on an international level. The Price Library is the best Judaica research collection in the s outheastern United States. Our late 19 th and early 20 th century material places us among the top ten collections in the country. We are particularly strong in Jewish community related materials and we are starting to grow our collection of personal archive s. These archives will provide key resources for research into Florida Je wry and the immigrant experience. It is incredible what one person might own and what another person might collect. For example, you can see here the Yiddish/English notebook of the first Rabbi of Jacksonville; this piece provides linguistic evidence of 19 th century immigrants as well as a piece of Jacksonville history. Here we have t he photograph album of a Lithuanian family murdered by the Nazis important evidence about life befor e the Holocaust a nd here their last letters from the Ghetto. Here too you can see the un published autobiography of a former professor at the University of Florida, detailing how he survived a Nazi concentration camp. Libraries. A school in Palestine thought it important to produce it, and a Rabbi in Chicago thought it important to collect it. Why? Because it co ntains excerpts from the diary of a talented young girl, Leah Stupniker, whose family escaped from Russia to Palestine and then went on to America. This dull erience. As Leah herself wrote: I love words, words that have in them at least something vital and of the imagination; m athematics is so dry and simple! In 1923, Leah reluctantly left Palestine, her friends and her school for America. On the ship, she wrot e, in beautiful Hebrew, a language that she had mastered in just one year, the following (translated by me): The sea is beautiful, wild and free. In Israel I learned to love the sunshine and the sea. It too absorbs the heat, the cold; it is full of zest. How beautiful it is now, for example: sparkling, shining from the rays of the sun, a small white wave revolve s here and a small one there. It is as though a thousand wishes glimmer within it, and it is a live and roaring entity. Completely different is nighttime: black, deep black, like the darkness itself; noisy and growling with rage. The waves race, chase after the ship, and in between the foam it seems the mermaids dance their wild dances.
And it seemed to me for I saw them that they were living in the foam. And it seemed to me, for I heard them e, Come! How long you have searched for peace. Jump to us and you not long for peace. I have not yet labored, and there is nothing from whi ch to feel dejected. I will not consider And my heart felt so good, as though some sort of heavy burden had lifted from it. Wednesday, from below deck, 9 in the evening, from the electric light coming in through a crack from the corridor. much I dreamed u Tuesday, towards evening, in the hotel room worries all the time. with any luck we will be in America. In another three weeks my What happened next to this precocious young girl? Her teacher explains: after 28 days on the 7 th Heshvan [October], 1923; she was buried in Brooklyn. the head of all child welfare in the City of leave no box unturned! compositions penned at the age of 13: On Life and Death Evening approaches. The cold air infuses a gentle longing for the dying sun. The west burns with fire as the sun leaves and hides. The lake too; slowly it moves its red waves. Suddenly foam appears on the water and a pure white swan comes into view. He stretches his neck out towards the dying sun and a song of deat h is heard coming from within his heart. It is full of longing and remorse for transient life. But it is also strong: what has been determined shall be! Let us die now with honor and not with vain entreaties! And so it seems: the whole world beneath is lis tening to the song of the king of death. Happy is he who dies like this!