100 years of premier Jewish Studies Collection
12 July 2006
An Italian Mahzor - a richly illuminated book of Hebrew festival prayers - and sumptuous silverware used in religious rituals provided a stunning backdrop for UCL Library Services's party celebrating 100 years since the Mocatta Collection passed into the hands of UCL.
Frederic Mocatta, a leading figure in the world of Anglo-Jewry and philanthropy, bequeathed UCL a number of manuscripts and books. Over the years the Mocatta Collection has been supplemented by donations from Sir Hermann Gollancz, Israel Abrahams, Lucien Wolf, Sir Moses Montefiore and Moses Gaster to create the largest and most comprehensive collection of Anglo-Jewish research material in a UK university, including the correspondence that led Charles Dickens to create the character of Riah, the sympathetic Jew in Our Mutual Friend.
Speaking at the party, Vice-Provost Professor Michael Worton emphasised that the links between UCL and the Jewish community are long-established and still close in 2006, which is also the 350th anniversary of the re-admission of Jews to England. Not only was UCL the first university in England to welcome Jewish students, but several distinguished Jews were on the original UCL Council, including members of the Mocatta family. A number of their successors attended the party, which welcomed over 100 guests. Today UCL is the only UK university with a separate department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies.
'Remember the days of old', the anniversary exhibition, will be on display in the Main Library Entrance until 28 September. UCL Library Services is taking measures to ensure the splendid holdings are remembered in years to come: it is seeking funding to take on a full-time Hebrew Studies librarian in the next academic year and to digitise parts of the collection.
To find out more about the Mocatta bequest and the Jewish Collection, use the link at the top of this article.
Image 1: The Italian Mahzor, at least 400 years old
Image 2: Celebrating 100 years of the Mocatta Collection