House of Ethics Rabbi Yisrael Salanter

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House of Ethics. The Foundation, Our Master, Our Teacher, and Our Rebbe (admur) Rabbi Yisrael Salanter. Kovno

Born in Lithuania in 1810, Rabbi Yisra’el ben Ze’ev Volf Salanter (also known as Lipkin) was a prominent Rabbi and is the founder of the first Musar society. As a young man Salanter was sent to study Torah with Rabbi Tsevi Hirsh Broyda, during his studies Salanter came into contact with Yosef Zundel through whom Salanter became interested in questions regarding moralistic and ethical teachings. For Salanter it was not enough for Jews to observe the commandments and be committed to the study of Torah, they also needed to devote themselves to ethical improvement. This led Salanter to found a “Musar house” in Vilna where ethical texts were studied and where Salanter delivered lectures. Throughout his life Salanter moved around establishing “Musar houses” in many cities in Eastern and Western Europe. The teachings of the Musar movement were somewhat controversial in Salanter’s lifetime and the standards for moral improvement were highly demanding of adherents. Though Rabbi Salanter died in 1883, the Musar movement outlived him, with the movement expanding in the nineteenth century as Salanter’s disciples became involved in yeshivas. This bookstamp came from the Musar House (the “house of ethics”) in Kovno.

This book stamp is from a book looted by the Nazis and sorted by Colonel Seymour Pomrenze, one of “the Monuments Men,” at the Offenbach Archival Depot.

There are two scrapbooks of archival markings from the books sorted at the Offenbach Depot in the Seymour Pomrenze Collection held by the American Jewish Historical Society (Call number P-933) There is a finding aid for the collection here The digitized scrapbooks are available here and here.

For more information on this project check the Center’s blog:

Dr. Mitch Fraas, Acting Director of the Digital Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries' Special Collections Center is working on a similar project for the German book stamps based on NARA microfilm of the volumes the American Jewish Historical Society currently holds. See

The Center for Jewish History would like to acknowledge the following: The American Jewish Historical Society, who graciously allowed the use of their archival materials and digital content; Mitch Fraas, Acting Director of the Digital Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries' Special Collections Center, for his data and technical assistance in this project; David Rosenberg, Senior Manager for Communications, and Melanie Meyers, Senior Reference Services Librarian for Special Collections, for managing and creating the digital map; as well as Reference Services Librarian Zachary Loeb and Reference Services Assistant Ilya Slavutskiy for their work on translating and mapping.

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Owner: Center for Jewish History, NYC
Source: Flickr Commons
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