The Braginsky Collection
Having spent more than three decades passionately and enthusiastically collecting illuminated manuscripts, printed books, marriage contracts, and Esther scrolls, I take great pleasure in presenting a selection of this collection to those interested in Jewish culture, history and art. I sincerely hope that my passion and enthusiasm will prove contagious to those who visit the website. Each item in this collection has its own history and, as such, bears witness to the Jewish past and, on a more private level, to my Jewish past. Without knowledge of the past, one can hardly come to terms with the present, much less prepare for the future. It is from this perspective that I would like to reflect on my reasons for collecting and understanding these exceptional works. Ancestral history, both that of the Jewish people and of my immediate family, has had a great impact on me. My paternal grandfather, of Ukrainian descent, went missing during the First World War. My father was orphaned at the age of sixteen and survived the Second World War in Switzerland. It is only in our day that my brother and I have the privilege of leading peaceful and secure lives in Switzerland, something for which we are profoundly grateful.
My heritage has had a great influence on who I am and what I have done, as I strive to comprehend my past and shape my life accordingly. Encouraged by my long-time friend Michael Floersheim, of blessed memory, and frequent visits to his impressive collection, I was inspired to purchase my first works of Judaica. Each piece became special to me, representing a personal connection to an intriguing past I yearned to understand. My admiration for the magnificent art and craftsmanship, as well as my respect for the deep piety characteristic of many of the objects, continues to this day. Particularly in our fast-paced, often hectic, age, contemplating these manuscripts fills me with calm, serenity, and the confidence that what is truly important will endure. In this way I seek to comprehend my heritage, the Jewish destiny as well as the major forces that have shaped our past and present and are leading us to the future.
This may explain my passion for collecting on an intellectual basis. Yet, the line between the pleasure and the burden of collecting is quite fine at times. I cannot describe the passion for collecting in general, only that of my personal experience. After I started collecting, the bar mitzvah of our son became the decisive catalyst for the swift growth of my collection both in quality and quantity. For this occasion, almost twenty years ago, I searched for an old illuminated manuscript of a Birkat ha-Mazon (Grace after Meals) to reproduce for our guests. I could not find what I was looking for at the time and on this important occasion had to settle for a reproduction of a manuscript that belonged to another private collector. Those who know me will understand that this concerned me greatly and motivated my search until I finally found what I was looking for, with the help of a knowledgeable manuscript dealer. This expert subsequently called my attention to other exceptional works and was thus instrumental in my becoming a collector.
My collection grew, not randomly, but systematically; I continued to be passionate about each new item I managed to acquire. Collecting and learning about Jewish manuscripts have become critical, ongoing passions. My foremost motivation is the desire to understand through connecting in a meaningful way with the art and culture of the past. I also wish to make these precious works available to others, so that they, too, may appreciate and enjoy them. This website is thus not the culmination of my Judaica collection, but rather an important milestone. It is my hope that the presentation of these works will allow all of us to learn from the past and benefit from it in our futures.