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Odds and quads - 30 May 2013

Moses Gaster (1856-1939) was a Jewish communal leader, a prominent Zionist and a prolific scholar of Romanian literature and folklore, Samaritan history and literature, as well as Jewish subjects.

Born in Bucharest, Gaster was expelled from Romania in 1885 because of his political activities. He settled in Britain, where he became naturalised in 1893, and was appointed Haham (spiritual head) of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community. Later he became principal of the Judith Lady Montefiore College in Ramsgate.

As a founder and president of the English Zionist Federation, Gaster played an important role in the talks leading to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which paved the way for the creation of the state of Israel 31 years later.

The Gaster Papers, now held by University College London, consist of around 170,000 items, including a large collection of ephemera such as those shown here - invitations, menus, visiting cards, greetings cards, programmes and more - dating from the 1880s to the 1930s.

They cast a fascinating light on Gaster’s social and communal activities, and on Anglo-Jewish life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com

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