The Only Gemara Ever Printed By the US Government

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It’s considered to be the only edition of the Talmud ever printed by a national government.

Newsweek reports that on Aug. 31, 1945, President Harry Truman sent a letter to General Dwight Eisenhower, the future president who was then running the American occupation of Germany. Truman had received a report on the condition of displaced persons—DPs, the term for post-war refugees who had no homes to which to return—in Europe, particularly Jewish DPs. And the president was not happy.

“Apparently it is being taken for granted that all displaced persons, irrespective of their former persecution or the likelihood that their repatriation or resettlement will be delayed, must remain in camps—many of which are overcrowded and heavily guarded,” he wrote. “Some of these camps are the very ones where these people were herded together, starved, tortured and made to witness the death of their fellow-inmates and friends and relatives.”

The United States had a particular responsibility to those DPs, the president concluded, and he hoped that the general would see things the same way.

Within a few years, that particular responsibility led to something unusual: what is considered to be the only edition of the Talmud ever printed by a national government. It is known as the Survivors’ Talmud.

The particular page seen above is part of a rare full set that is being preserved by the Center for Jewish History in New York City. This title page depicts a barbed-wire fenced camp as well as the Mediterranean landscape of the holy land, and these words: “From bondage to freedom, from darkness to a great light.” The dedication reads:

This edition of the Talmud is dedicated to the United States Army. The Army played a major role in the rescue of the Jewish people from total annihilation, and their defeat of Hitler bore the major burden of sustaining the DPs of the Jewish faith. This special edition of the Talmud, published in the very land where, but a short time ago, everything Jewish and of Jewish inspiration was anathema, will remain a symbol of the indestructibility of the Torah. The Jewish DPs will never forget the generous impulses and the unprecedented humanitarianism of the American Forces, to whom they owe so much.

Read the full report at NEWSWEEK.




  1. Let’s daven that this medinah shel chesed will continue in this way no matter who gets elected in November.

  2. I saw this about 45 years ago in the library of Yeshivah Kamenitz at 960 49th street in Boro Park and was very moving to learn from such a Shas


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