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Man of the Book

Yisroel Feller

Their companies were next-door neighbors. They purchased paper together, swapped staff and cooperated on logistics, even though they were both competing for the same slice of the market. And then, as Feldheim’s Israeli business was about to collapse, Yoni Posen of Yefe Nof picked up the gauntlet.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

man of bookA few years ago, the authors of an important sefer got into a dispute with Feldheim, their publishers, and sought the advice of a well-known rebbe in switching publishing companies. The rebbe thought for a few moments and then answered, “I have heard good things about Posen.” He suggested that they transfer the publication rights to Reb Yehonasan (Yoni) Posen, owner of the Yefe Nof publishing company.

The two authors made their way to Posen’s office, but they were in for a surprise. After listening to their complaints about Feldheim, he responded, “Your rebbe has indeed heard good things about me, but there is one good thing that he has not yet heard: that I am a very good friend of Mendy Feldheim.” Mendy Feldheim was the managing director of Feldheim Publishers.

After that meeting, Posen used that friendship to straighten out the misunderstandings between the two sides — and the authors returned to Feldheim.

In fact, the offices of the two publishing companies, Feldheim and Posen’s Yefe Nof, used to be neighbors on Rechov Beit Hadfus inJerusalem, at the bottom of the Givat Shaul industrial area. As next-door neighbors and distant relatives, the owners of the two companies began to develop a most unusual business friendship. The two publishers went from being potential competitors to complementing each other’s work. Thus, when Posen had four stores, he partnered with Feldheim in the fifth. They may have looked like competitors, but they were also partners.

Today, when asked about this relationship following his bailout of Feldheim’s Israeli operation after it went into receivership, Reb Yoni Posen answers, “At the time, it was a strategic decision. But it is important to emphasize that nothing has changed. Today, as well, we continue to send authors to other publishers when we feel that their style is more suited to the other company. The publishing world is far more open and friendly than it seems from the outside.”

So friendly, in fact, that when we ask Posen to pose for a picture next to a store with the Feldheim logo, he refuses, claiming that he does not have the time. But is it just a lack of time, or perhaps a modesty that stems from abiding friendship and loyalty?


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