Brooklyn, NY – VIN Exclusive: Behind The Scenes At Artscroll [video]

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    Brooklyn, NY – Is there a Jewish home today that does not own at least one Artscroll book? Artscroll single handedly revolutionized the Jewish book business with the publication of their first book, Megillas Esther, in 1976. Today they are a household name and their most recent catalog features over 1500 books. For Pesach alone, Artscroll offers a full selection of Seder accessories and over 64 titles, including Machzorim, Haggadas, and an assortment of Pesach books and seforim.

    With Pesach rapidly approaching, Artscroll granted an exclusive video interview to VIN News, conducted by Yosef Shidler of CJ studios offering a rare glimpse inside the powerhouse of Jewish publishing.

    Their offices in Brooklyn, New York house not only their staff, but is where their books are assembled as well. While most of us are familiar with the maroon, gold stamped Artscroll Gemaras, it takes many painstaking steps to produce each volume. Every gemara is actually comprised of numerous small booklets that are collated and sewn together before being bound in those distinctive covers, which are gold stamped and gilded on site. Of course, hours of work go into every book before it can be assembled. Each manuscript must be edited, often involving research and potential rewriting. Books are then proofread and checked for spelling and grammar mistakes. Every page has to be typeset and laid out so that commentary and text appear on the same page. Countless hours go into each and every volume, making each book a true labor of love.

    Rabbi Nosson Scherman, general editor of Artscroll, explains that the name Artscroll came from the desire to produce books that are visually appealing, instead of looking like they were printed in someone’s basement. While clearly it is the content of the book that is the main focus at Artscroll, R’ Scherman explains that the visuals are very important, particularly in the United States where people really do judge a book by its cover.

    After the publication of Megillas Esther in 1976, it became apparent that Artscroll was something that was absolutely vital to American Jewry. R’ Scherman, who was the principal at the Stoliner Yeshiva, was urged by R’ Moshe Feinstein and R’ Mordechai Gifter to give up his day job and devote himself to Artscroll full time, along with co-author R’ Meir Zlotowitz. While many American born men and women were products of yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs, once they moved on in life, learning on their own proved too difficult and many gave it up entirely. Artscroll was a way to make learning attainable to the general public. Artscroll publications were accessible, understandable and attractive produced, always l’chvod shomayim.

    While some have accused Artscroll of making learning too easy, R’ Scherman disagrees, saying Artscroll seforim are meant as study aids, used to complement the actual seforim. They should be used to resolve difficulties in the original text, or as a way to make learning fit into a busy schedule when time constraints don’t permit reviewing the complete text and commentary inside the actual sefer. R’ Scherman smiles as he explains that even R’ Elyashiv finds it helpful to go through the Hebrew comments in an Artscroll gemara, adding “If it’s okay for R’Elyashiv, it’s okay for me and you.”
    One of the many Hagdah's by Artscroll
    With Pesach just around the corner, Artscroll offers over 40 Haggadas and R’ Scherman displays nine different haggadas, pointing out the different nuances in each one. The Family Haggada alone has sold over hundreds of thousands of copies. Artscroll’s latest release is the full commentary of the Ramban on the Chumash, a seven volume set which is slated to be released on March 18th. Work has just started on Artscroll’s latest project, Medrash Raba on Chumash, which R’ Scherman anticipates being a 15 volume set.

    Watch below clips of the fascinating interview

    Meeting Rabbi Nosson Sherman & Artscroll History:

    Pesach Hagadahs review with Rabbi Sherman:

    Below photos of a tour at the plant

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    33 COMMENTS

    1. Artscroll actually was around before 1976.

      They printed invitations and benchers, etc – for simchas. Their name “ArtScroll” was pertaining to their graphics, design and type-layout of their invitation business.
      They also printed other (not original) works.

      Their first ORIGINAL book (which they authored themselves and printed) was the Megillas Esther.

    2. can someone tell me when the Hebrew Shas will be complete
      and if artscroll is planing to to reprint in large format..? I can’t wait to replace it with my חתן ש”ס

      • Yakov Gifter is a very fine person but he was under Bar Mitzvah in 1976. Perhaps you meant his grandfather, HaRav Mordechai Gifter, Telzer Rosh Yeshiva.

    3. An Artscroll Gemorah is a real delight which cannot be expressed in words. I just can’t wait for Artscroll’s Medrash Raba on Chumash to come out. To wet some people’s appetite for it, let me tell you that Medrash contains the heart and soul of Judaism, Learning Medrash gives you a very deep feeling and understanding of the Mesorah. Medrash is the Mesorah that was passed on Ish Mepi Ish, so it should be fitting that Artscroll/Mesorah should publish it.

      It is brought down (don’t remember where) that learning Medrash strengthens the Emunah. Ani Hakoton can testify to it. Lately the popular flier called “Alim Letrufah” published by Belz every week and distributed in Shuls started giving a few tidbits of the current Sedrah’s Medrash. To them I say, you are a part of my Oneg Shabbos.

    4. They need to come out with translations of Rashi, Tosafos, Rishonim, Acharonim and Poskim. If they were to translate all the sefarim in the Bar Ilan CD, than we would truly see kedusha increase in our world and in our kehillas.

    5. I wish there was an Artscroll Tosefos – I believe that too many of us are struggling on a Tosefos – and what a world would be opened up with that.

      • I suspect you are the only VIN reader with extra time on his hands to worry about learning Tosefos with an ArtScroll version when there are so many more significant meforshim to study that are much more accessible to the average yid.

      • to num 14 – if it helps there are 2 seforim one called sharey tosafos and one called may menuchos that that go through the q and a of tosafos and really help enlighten your learning experience. they cover some perakim in shas, and though they’re written in hebrew, they should definetly help. hatzlocho.

    6. The ArtScroll Revolution: 5TJT Interviews Rabbi Nosson Scherman
      Thursday December 3, 2009 1:07 PM – 8 Comments

      6. Comment from Monsey Yid
      Time December 3, 2009 at 6:32 PM

      In his childhood,Rabbi Scherman drew much inspiration from Rabbi Sholom Ber Gordon who was the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Shaliach/Rov in Newark NJ

    7. Ever since i left B M to go to University and then get a job it has been hard to find alot of time to learn. But thanks to Artscroll I believe i learned alot of Torah and have strenghtend my Emunah in Hashem and try to behave like a good and proper jew. My fav Artscroll Safer is Perkei Avoth. A Job well done.

      Keep it up. I am so looking forward to the Medrash Rabba

    8. They can resist it for a while but the future belongs to e-readers (of course not as the only option). Imagine the whole Shas (and everyhing else) on your Kindle…

    9. I spoke to R Zlotowitz a few weeks ago. Artscroll is preparing to offer the shas in ebook format. The ipad and kindle are not yet ready to handle the hebrew typeset.

    10. I guess I’m the only one who detests the Artscroll font, dim, thin and hard to read. Give me Shiloh siddur anytime which is what we used back in the day to learn to daven. Not to mention the huge typo in Shabbos mussaf in the schoolchildren’s edition, which appeared in at least two printings before they caught the mistake.

      • Artscroll is not only about Sedurim but about Shas and Meforshim. I really wonder what you detest. So you caught them on a mistake, does that nullify their humongous achievement. I think that you are nit picking.

        You remind me that when the Vilna Shas Gemoress were completed in about 1883, the Romm children who published it thought that they did a perfect job, so they announced that they will give a silver Rubel for every mistake someone can find. In very short order they had to take back their announcement as it would have bankrupted them; that’s how many mistakes were found.

    11. I met Rav Sherman about twenty years ago in his Shul on Shabbos where I was visiting friends after learning in Eretz Yisroel. I was sitting across from him and when we were eating after davening and he introduced himself to me I kept repeating “Nosson Sherman !!!” several times in a row embarassing him. He didn’t realize how much learning his Seforim meant to me in Yeshivah !!! Artscroll Seforim taught me as much as my my Rebbeim — even more, mochel me Rebbeim. Today, I learn Artscroll Gemara with such cheshek I cannot thank them enough. I would love to learn selected Artscroll translations of chashuv meforshim. The commenter above who would enjoy a translation and commentary on Tosofos is correct. It would teach us so much. American Yiddin are handicapped in our learning. We truely benefit from learning the Artscroll derech. I cannot thank Rav Sherman and all the contributors and sponsors enough. Shefah bruchos to them all.

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