Yeshiva Fair Is a Bastion for Jewish Books of the Printed Variety

Source: NYT, 2-11-11

Those who mourn the metamorphosis of books made of paper into digital versions for e-readers can find some solace by taking a trip to Washington Heights in Manhattan.

James Estrin/The New York Times

The sale offers gilded volumes of Torah and Talmud, and Jewish-themed novels, cookbooks and children’s picture books.

James Estrin/The New York Times

Mordechai Weiss went to the fair on its first day and found an armful of books to buy.

There, in a cavernous hall on its campus, Yeshiva University is holding its annual seforim sale — its book fair. It offers 150,000 new and incontrovertibly genuine books — printed and bound — of 13,000 titles. They include gilded volumes of Torah and Talmud, novels, cookbooks, biographies, humor collections, self-help guides and children’s picture books, all Jewish-themed.

The fair opened on Sunday and ends on Feb. 27; 15,000 people are expected to visit and to spend a total of $1 million.

The fair, managed by students, has been running for at least 25 of the university’s 125 years, but it has mushroomed in recent years and has become a highlight of the New York region’s Orthodox calendar — not quite on the level of Passover, but an important period nonetheless.

That is because it has become a must-do social event, where some of the 58,000 Yeshiva alumni, as well as observant students from colleges and high schools in the New York area, know they will bump into one another. And it is where eligible men and women meet up behind the fig leaf that they are there only to browse through the books. Mingling among them are sprinklings from other Jewish subcultures, from insistently secular to Hasidic.

On Sunday, among the skullcap-wearing men prowling the aisles, some with prayer fringes dangling out of their shirts, was Yishai Barkhordari, 23, a graduate of Yeshiva University now studying counseling psychology at Fordham University. He said he had run into 10 friends.

“Jews buy and read books, especially Jewish books,” Mr. Barkhordari said. “So you put a lot of books in one place, you’ll get a lot of Jews.”

The book fair also draws thousands of visitors to the neighborhood, from which, for a long time, Yeshiva University had remained relatively separate…READ MORE

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