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Moldovan Family Holy Land Collection     Home  |  About |  View the Maps
Al MoldovanThe Moldovan family Holy Land Map Collection was built over several decades by Dr. Alfred Moldovan and his family. It consists of 94 discrete maps dating from 1480-1797, printed in 23 distinct locations across Europe. The majority of the maps were printed in the 17th and 18th centuries in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Basel, Lyon, Paris, Rome, Strassburg, Tuebingen, and Venice. There are over fifty cartographers and engravers represented, including Adrichem, Bunting, Calmet, Hole, Mercator, Munster, Ortelius, Visscher, Wit, and Ziegler. It also features the unique surviving copy of Antonio De Angelis’s map of Jerusalem, printed in Rome in 1578. The map, the first view of Jerusalem based on direct observation and a key source for subsequent Holy Land cartography, was discovered by Dr. Moldovan and subsequently published in a study by him in 1983 in an article entitled “The Lost De Angelis Map of Jerusalem, 1578" in The Map Collector vol. 24 (1983), 17-25, )

These digital facsimiles were presented to the Penn Libraries in 2009 by Dr. Alfred Moldovan, one of the world’s foremost Judaica collectors over the last half-century and an expert on the authentici­ty of Jewish ceremonial art. He was born on the East side of New York in 1921 to immigrant, Yiddish-speaking parents.  During World War II, he served in Italy as a Captain and a Radar Officer in the 455th Bom­bardment Group of the Fifteenth Air Force. On returning to the United States, he attend­ed medical school on the G.I. Bill, joined the Communist Party and received permission to fulfill his mobilization service as a fam­ily doctor in East Harlem, which kept him busy for over fifty years.

Moldovan’s intense commitment to economic and social justice led him to become one of the founding mem­bers of the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR). In 1963, as a member of the MCHR, he participated in the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I have a Dream" speech. At the height of the Civil Rights movement, in March of 1965, Dr. Moldovan and the MCHR provided a medical presence during the historic march from Selma, across the Pettus bridge, to Montgomery, Alabama. By 1970, Dr. Moldovan and his beloved wife Jean Sorkin Moldovan, had become serious collectors. Al’s background and experience as a political organizer subsequently found new social and cultural outlets when he founded the Harry Friedman Society for Judaica Collectors and served on the Acquisitions Committee of the Jewish Museum in New York City.  In 2010, his son Joseph T. Moldovan, C'76 and daughter-in-law Susan Alkalay Moldovan, C'76 established the Moldovan Family Rare Judaica collection at the Penn Libraries in honor of Al and his wife Jean Sorkin Moldovan.

Photo by Joseph T. Moldovan