Romm publishing house

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The Romm publishing house was a famous publisher of Jewish religious literature, especially known for its 1886 Vilna Talmud, which still serves as a definitive edition.

Romm was founded in 1789 in Grodno, by Barukh ben Yosef Romm. It moved to Vilnius in 1799, where it expanded greatly under the ownership of Barukh's son, Menahem Mann Romm (d.1841).[1][2] Initially publishing halakhic and homiletic works, in 1835 it caused a stir by publishing an edition of the Talmud, whose publication had previously been undertaken by the Shapira family of Slavuta. After fierce controversy over whether this new edition was permitted by rabbinical law, with rabbis on each side unable to reach agreement, the death of a worker in the Slavuta factory during the controversy led to the Russian government intervening (Vilnius was at the time in the Vilna Governorate of the Russian Empire). The Slavuta publishing house was shut down, and to instill order amongst the Jewish publishers, the Russian authorities instituted a formal publishing monopoly, which Romm successfully bid for.

The Romm factory burned down in 1840, but was soon rebuilt, and prospered through both its monopoly privileges and the rapidly increasing Jewish population of the region. Upon the death of owner David Romm in 1862, the company was, unusually, taken over by his widow Deborah, and renamed to "The Widow and Brothers Romm". It was under this name that it produced a highly regarded new edition of the Talmud, completed in 1886, which is still widely used. The firm's last Talmud edition was printed in 1897, after which the rise of Zionism shifted Jewish publishing. When Deborah Romm died in December 1903, the firm also started to print secular periodicals and newspapers in Yiddish and Hebrew. This was not to the liking of the person who was the manager until then, Samuel Shraga Fiignzon (שפן סופר). Descendants of the widow Deborah Rom lost interest in managing the press, and several of her sons emigrated to the United States. The printing press got into financial difficulty. Baron David Günzburg from St. Petersburg, himself a scholar of Jewish affairs came to the rescue, and bought the firm in 1910. But the Baron died soon after, and his widow could not continue to hold on to the printing house, which did not carry profits. The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 caused almost the closure of this old printing press.

Thanks to the efforts of the Rabbi of St. Petersburg, Dr. Moshe Eliezer Eisenstadt, the printing house was bought by two wealthy individuals, Noah Gordon and Haim Cohen who volunteered to rescue the printing house because of its importance. The printing house changed its name again to The Stock Company for Printing Books and Publishing "Romm". At the request of Noah Gordon, in 1920 his cousin, Mathus Rapoport, took over the management of the printing house and also became one of the owners. Rapoport ran the printing house for 20 years. On the night of July 7, 1941, just days after the German invasion of Vilnius, Mathus Rapoport was taken from his home at midnight and was murdered by the Nazis. Thus came to an end the greatest Jewish printing house in the world. With the end of the Second World War the building was confiscated by the Russians. They continued to use the printing house after the war until the beginning of the 1990s but with no connection to Judaism.


  1. ^ The Jewish encyclopedia 1925 "The establishment was inherited by his son Menahem Man Romm, who in 1835 commenced, in partnership with Simhah Zimmel of Grodno, to publish a new edition of the Talmud."
  2. ^ Žydų gyvenimas Lietuvoje: parodos katalogas Rūta Puišytė, Darius Staliūnas - 2007 "8 The Vilnius printers Menachem Romm and Dvoira Romm. Boruch Romm set up the first Jewish press in Lithuania in Grodno. From 1823 it operated in Vilnius. Between 1829 and 1833 it published 111 religious books. In the decade 1847-1857 the Romms published 460 Jewish books."

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