Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter
The Jewish Book Council team has had an amazing first two days at Jerusalem International Book Fair. We’ve spent time meeting authors, reviewers, and our publishing peers from all over the world and will be sharing some of the interesting bites from our trip throughout the week.
Today, we spent a little time with Marcel Marcus, the current owner of Ludwig Mayer Books, the oldest bookshop in Jerusalem. Ludwig Mayer Books was founded outside Jaffa Gate in 1908 by Ludwig Mayer, who moved to Jerusalem from Prenzlau (north of Berlin). With the outbreak of World War I, Ludwig was called back to Germany in 1914 for army service and his books remained in storage until he returned in 1933, weeks after the Jewish boycott in Germany. In 1935, he reopened the bookstore on Shlomzion Hamalka Street, right behind the Main Post Office, a position which would eventually be strategically convenient for the Mayers to serve the state of Israel. The Main Post Office served as the British army’s HQ in the 40’s, placing the Mayers within listening distance of the soldiers’ radio communication – information that would prove useful for the Haganah.
Following the creation of the State of Israel, Ludwig Mayer Books became a strong international bookshop that exported and imported books from throughout the world, securing its place as a “landmark of Zionist history.”
In 1994, Marcel Marcus, a rabbi in Switzerland, read about the sale of Ludwig Mayer Books. Only a few days later, he was connected to Ludwig Mayer’s sons, making the purchase of the bookstore possible, and thus began his new life as an Israeli bookshop owner. In 1996, Marcel moved to Israel and officially took the position he still serves in to this day: providing international books and periodicals for the people of Israel and exporting Israeli publications to eager customers abroad.
Marcel is confident that even in a digital age, Ludwig Mayer Books will have a place and assures me that, as long as a customer has a bit patience, he will be able to track down any book or periodical necessary. So, if you find yourself in Jerusalem, track down Ludwig Mayer Books, say hello to Marcel, and check out his wonderful collection. Abroad? Go online and visit his website www.mayerbooks.com. He awaits you with open arms and an eagerness to connect books with readers across the globe.
Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Naomi is the executive director of Jewish Book Council. She graduated from Emory University with degrees in English and Art History and, in addition, studied at University College London. Prior to her role as executive director, Naomi served as the founding editor of the JBC website and blog and managing editor of Jewish Book World. In addition, she has overseen JBC’s digital initiatives, and also developed the JBC’s Visiting Scribe series and Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in Conversation.