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February 28: The Brazilian Book Lover

Lawrence Bush
February 28, 2017
José Ephim Mindlin, a bibliophile who had the largest private library in Latin America (38,000 titles), died in Sao Paolo, his town of birth, at age 95 on this date in 2010. Mindlin was an attorney and a businessman with major holdings in the automotive parts industry — and was one of only two Brazilian big-business leaders who withheld cooperation from the military dictatorship in Brazil. Mindlin donated half his collection of books to the University of Sao Paolo in 2006 and built a building to house it. According to the U.S. Library of Congress, “Mindlin, who began book collecting in 1927 at the age of 13, became acquainted with [Lessing] Rosenwald” in the 1960s — Rosenwald (son of Sears, Roebuck’s Julius Rosenwald) being a key contributor of rare books to the Library of Congress. “As a young man, [Mindlin] met many book collectors who saw themselves as guardians of the printed book and he grew to understand that many great collections were destined to be given to institutions for the benefit of scholarship and preservation.” “Brazil, a country of many contrasts and many hues, Portuguese-speaking in a hemisphere of Spanish-speaking neighbors, is not easy to explain, much less to summarize, but is a country that is easy to appreciate, even love.” --José Mindlin

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.