Woodcut of Rashi from Postillae Maiores Totius Anni Cum Glossis & Quaestionibus by William of Paris, Lyon, 1539..Source: Wikimedia Commons
The Rabbi Herman Hailperin Collection
Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1899, Herman Hailperin was a descendant of rabbis on his father's and mother's sides. He was ordained a conservative rabbi in 1922 and became the spiritual leader of Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue, where he served for over 50 years. He earned both his masters degree and PhD in theology from the University of Pittsburgh. Along with his duties as a rabbi, he taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute, and Duquesne University. At Duquesne, he taught courses in both history and theology. His main research interest was in the influence of Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki), the famous medieval French-Jewish biblical commentator on medieval Christian scholars, particularly Nicholas of Lyra. The author of many books and articles, his most important work was Rashi and the Christian Scholars. Rabbi Hailperin died in 1973.
In 1969, Rabbi Hailperin donated his personal library to Duquesne University. The original gift consisted of over 2,600 books, plus some scholarly journals, and other items. The books are in English, Hebrew, French, Aramaic, and other languages. Some of the works are quite old and rare, the earliest titles having publication dates from the 15th century.
Using Hailperin Collection Materials
It was always the intention of Rabbi Hailperin that the collection be actively used by scholars. While the older and more fragile works must be used in carefully controlled conditions within the University Archives of the Gumberg Library, most of the other works can be borrowed. Items in the Hailperin Collection are indicated as such on the QuickSearch record for each item. Its circulation status (whether it can be taken out or not) is also listed. If you search QuickSearch and find a Hailperin Collection book that you would like to use, bring the title of the book and call number to the Circulation Desk. If it is one that can be taken out of the library, the Circulation staff will retrieve the book and check it out for you. If it is a rare item that does not circulate, the University Archives staff will need to retrieve the book. You will then be able to use it in the Archives on the 1st floor of Gumberg Library. Of course, these rare works are only available for use during the hours when the University Archives is open. Click here for the hours and other information about the University Archives.
You can tell that a book is located in the Hailperin Collection by looking at the last line of a citation in your QuickSearch result list.
To see if a book can be checked out of the library or not, click on the title of the catalog record.
On the Item Information screen, look at the bottom line of the record.If the book is "Library Use Only" you will see this indicated there. If you do not see this message, it may be taken out.
Rabbi Herman L. Hailperin (left) and former president of Duquesne University, Fr. Henry J. McAnulty.
In the December, 2001 issue of the Gumberg Library publication BiblioTech, an article on Dr. Herman Hailperin and the collection that bears his name was published. To read this article by Martin Sivitz, please click the link below.