Herbert C. Zafren (1925-2005)
Michael A. Meyer, January 2006
Herbert Cecil Zafren, Judaica librarian and historian of early Hebrew printing at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati, died on June 30, 2005. Trained as a historian at Johns Hopkins University, he soon focused on Jewish bibliography. During more than 40 years, first as librarian of the extensive collection of Judaica at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati and then as director of libraries on all four campuses of HUC-JIR, Herbert Zafren also served as professor of Jewish bibliography, giving courses on research resources for the study of Jewish history. He founded both the periodical, Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, and the series, Bibliographica Judaica. A lifetime member of the American Historical Association, he considered himself a historian as much as a librarian. He became a leading expert on Hebrew incunabula, publishing articles on early Hebrew printers and contributing to the history of early Hebrew typefaces. Herbert Zafren received an honorary degree from Baltimore Hebrew College in 1969 and served two terms as president of the Council of Archives and Research Libraries in Jewish Studies.
—Michael A. Meyer, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion