A new online undertaking will enable anyone searching for access to ancient Jewish manuscripts to do so at the click of a mouse.
One of the oldest surviving Hebrew manuscripts, a bible dating back more than 1,000 years, will soon be available online for public viewing, thanks to a joint project with the British Library in London, the National Library of Israel announced on Monday.
Aviad Stollman, Israeli library’s chief of collections, said the Gaster Bible would go online as part of a project to digitize all of the 3,200 rare Hebrew manuscripts at the British Library.
The National Library of Israel has partnered with the British Library to digitize its entire Hebrew manuscript collection, considered one of the largest and most significant in the world.
Most of the manuscripts date back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance era and include rare texts of Hebrew literature, prayer books, bibles, Talmud and biblical commentary, as well as texts on Kabbalah – Jewish mysticism.
The project is part of the Israeli library’s million-dollar global initiative to digitize and disseminate online tens of thousands of rare Hebrew manuscripts currently dispersed among hundreds of collections worldwide. It has also partnered with libraries in other countries with significant Hebrew manuscript collections, such as Germany and Russia.
Jewish Textual Treasures – Not in Israel
“The main textual treasures of the Jewish people are not found in Israel,” said Stollman. “They are scattered all over the world.”
Thanks to this cooperation with the British library and similar efforts, “all the known textual treasures of the Jewish people will be available at your fingertips,” he added.
The project adds to one already under way, funded by the Polonsky Foundation, which is digitalizing 1,250 Hebrew manuscripts from the British Library collection.
The digitized and catalogued images from both projects will be available online within a few years through the British Library’s website and the National Library of Israel’s International Digital Library of Hebrew manuscripts.
“Researchers, students and other curious members of the public will be able to study these important manuscripts and enjoy their rich content,” said Oren Weinberg, director of the National Library of Israel.
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