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Rabbi donates books to MU's Jewish collection

Mar. 17, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University's Jewish Studies Collection is several hundred books richer this year, thanks to the generosity of Rabbi David Wucher, retired rabbi from B'Nai Sholom Congregation and Jewish Studies instructor at Marshall.

Wucher has donated several hundred books to the collection, so many that the university is hosting a reception in his honor from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 4, on the third floor of the John Deaver Drinko Library.

It's a tremendous gift that's crucial to diversifying the university's religious studies collection, said Christine Lewis, acquisition librarian at Marshall.

"Jewish heritage, history and religion are so important, and this will keep those stories alive," she said. "There are books on the Holocaust. It's so important for our students to have access to that information."

Wucher, who retired from B'Nai Sholom Congregation in 2011, said this is the first year in 25 years that he's not teaching a class at Marshall. He has taught courses on the Holocaust, Hebrew prophets, the Jewish way of life, the Hebrew language and other topics.

Right now, he's enjoying retirement by achieving long-planned goals, such as writing a book and participating in Civil War reenactments, both focusing on Rabbi Leopold Sarner, the only Jewish Chaplain who served in uniform during the Civil War. Wucher plans to participate in the 150th anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg this summer. After he finishes his book about Samer, he'd like to write another book on the reasons why the Holocaust occurred.

He's hoping that donating nearly a thousand books and periodicals to Marshall's collection will make it one of, if not the finest Jewish studies collection in this region. They include volumes of Talmud, ancient Jewish law codes in Aramaic.

"The English is included, too, and these are important for the study of (ancient) Judaism," Wucher said.

"The vast majority of students in my classes over the years were not of the Jewish faith, but it allows anybody who wants to study the Jewish religion to study and have the resources to do it," he said. "A teacher's influence really goes on forever. You teach people who teach other people who teach other people. Hundreds and hundreds of books will be there indefinitely, and I like to think I'll be helping students indefinitely, long after I'm gone from this world."