The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary Announces Launch of Digital Library

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

February 11, 2008, New York, NY

The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary announces the launch of a digital library which provides global access to some of Jewish history's most outstanding treasures.

The purchase of the digital library software (DigiTool) was made possible through the generous support of the Rebell Family Foundation and Members of The Library. Founded in 1893, The Library houses one of the largest and most significant collections of Judaica in the western hemisphere.

The first treasure to be made available is a collection of 250 rare wedding poems that were previously inaccessible. Now within reach to anyone from anywhere in the world, these poems have already piqued the interest of scholars and historians, and also offer cantors and rabbis new and creative material to incorporate into wedding ceremonies. Preparation of the digitized images was funded by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).

"The Library recognizes that as important as it is to collect and preserve the literatures and treasures of the past, these materials are worth little if they remain eternally on the shelf,” said Naomi Steinberger, director of Library Services. “The digital library brings us closer to realizing our mission of making our extensive collections available around the globe.”

Also already available on the site are Judaica Americana, exceptional manuscripts, and other rare materials. These include the full text of the Venice Haggadah (1609), one of the earliest printed illuminated Italian hagaddot; the Esslingen Mahzor (1290) from Ashkenaz; and the Prato Haggadah (ca. 1300), an unfinished Spanish illuminated manuscript.

Next to be uploaded will be close to 2,500 bookplates primarily from the Leah Mishkin Collection. Important both because of whom they represent (for example, Sigmund Freud) and for what they reveal about the culture and values of those who produced them, the bookplates are being digitized through funding from the Dilles Family. Thanks to generous support from The Library Advisory Board member Ruth Hendel and her husband, Stephen, The Library has also recently digitized a unique collection of field recordings of biblical chanting styles of different ethnic groups in British Palestine during the pre-world War II period; these recordings will be available as a digital collection in the near future.

Plans are also underway to add The Library’s world-renowned ketubbot (wedding contracts) collection, and archival works beginning with the Solomon Schechter Collection.

The digital library can be accessed at Further information is available by contacting Naomi Steinberger at (212) 678-8982.