Schocken Institute for Jewish Research
The Schocken Institute for Jewish Research of The Jewish Theological Seminary, a research institute dedicated to academic excellence and research in all branches of Jewish studies, is housed in Jerusalem at the Schocken Library, a historic landmark and architectural masterpiece.
In 1961, JTS became the custodian of the Schocken library and its unique collection of rare and beautiful manuscripts once owned by publishing magnate Salman Schocken; in 1977, JTS became its owner. The collection includes 60,000 volumes, among them several thousand first and early editions and incunabula (books printed before 1501).
Scope of Collections
Today, the Schocken Library specializes in rabbinic literature, Jewish liturgy, and medieval Hebrew poetry. Among the library’s holdings are thousands of photo reproductions of genizah fragments of Jewish poetry and an extensive collection of books and manuscripts on Jewish mysticism and Hasidism, early Yiddish books, halakhic literature, and Karaite literature. The personal library of Dr. Saul Lieberman, known as the Strook/Lieberman Collection, is also housed in the Schocken Library.
The library’s collections, indispensable resources for research, are open to the public and to scholars. Lectures and seminars arranged by the Schocken Institute are often accompanied by exhibitions of material from the collections.
Special Archive of Eastern European Rabbinic Correspondences
The Schocken Institute is also home of the Rabbi Moses Nahum Yerushalimsky archive. This collection consists of more than 25,000 archival items of announcements, petitions, invitations, and approbations from a leading late 19th-century rabbi, author, and communal leader of Polish and Russian Jewry. The archive contains a wealth of literary raw material on public issues, Jewish education, Jewish law and customs, and fascinating communal problems. With more than 6,500 documents and 4,000 postcards, the Yerushalimsky archive is now being scanned and cataloged for easy access on the website.
The Institute for the Study of Medieval Liturgical Poetry, also located at the Schocken Institute, was established in 1930 and remains the first institute dedicated to researching medieval Hebrew poetry (piyyutim). The institute has published critical editions of piyyutim as well as the critical research of noted scholars.
Over the past few years, the Schocken Institute has been engaged in several new and exciting projects:
- The Saul Lieberman Glosses to the Talmud Yerushalmi: Professor Saul Lieberman left thousands of handwritten emendations, glosses, and cross-references in the margins of his personal copies of the Krototschin and Venice editions of the Talmud Yerushalmi. A full-length volume titled Gilyonot Talmud Ha-Yerushalmi shel R’ Shaul Liebermann is being prepared.
- Responsa Bibliography: A bibliography and database of the vast sea of rabbinic responsa. This is an ongoing project in conjunction with the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.
- Educational Database Program: A database on the history of Jewish education, from the period of the Gaonim until modern times, is being developed in conjunction with the Center of Jewish Education of Haifa University and the Lifshitz College of Education in Jerusalem.
- The History of Jewish Consolation Practices: A project dealing with the historical development of Jewish consolation practices, with special emphasis on the community’s obligation and role to comfort mourners and the various strategies, formulas, and cultural mores related to Jewish comfort and consolation.
- Responsa Fragments from the Cairo Genizah: A joint project between the Schocken Institute and Cambridge University Library includes scholarly research on rabbinic responsa fragments and manuscripts found in the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection at the Cambridge University Libraries. This research is devoted exclusively to responsa literature from Ottoman Empire Sages from the 16th century to the 19th century; most of the fragments were not published. The first fruit of this research was published in 2012 by Brill: Seride Teshuvot: A Descriptive Catalogue of Responsa Fragments from the Jacques Mosseri Collection Cambridge University Library. In 2013, the first two volumes of Sride Teshuvot of Ottoman Empire Sages—Fragments from the Cairo Genizah Collection of the Cambridge University Library were published through JTS Press.
- The Book, Literature, and the Library: In 2012, the Schocken Institute organized a remarkable series of academic lectures entitled The Book, Literature, and the Library. The finest scholars and lecturers in Israel were engaged on a variety of topics, including manuscripts, literature, Talmudic literature and its development, the book, and more. Among the lecturers for the series were the winner of the Israel Prize, Professor Abraham Grossman; Professor Shmuel Glick; Professor Joseph Haker; Professor Catherine Kajman-Appel; Professor Elhanan Reiner; Professor Margalit Shilo; Professor Chagai Ben Shamai; Dr. Chana Kahat; and Dr. Chayuta Deutsch. The series was well attended by a diverse cross section of Jerusalemites. JTS is truly making its mark on the Jerusalem and Israeli intellectual landscape.
- Doctoral Workshop: Responsa, History, and Halakhic Literature:In 2013–2014, the Schocken Institute organized a remarkable workshop for outstanding doctoral students from various universities in Israel. Eight doctoral students from different disciplines—Talmud, Kabbalah, Jewish History, and Hungarian Jewish History during the Holocaust period—participated in this workshop.
For the last 20 years the Schocken Institute has dealt with studies in the history of Jewish education as reflected in rabbinic sources, bio-bibliographic research of responsa literature from 1470–2000, and responsa fragments in the Cairo Genizah from sages of the Ottoman Empire. During this period we have developed research methods and tools that aid in extracting previously unknown historical data from halakhic texts, especially responsa literature written in the 16th to 19th centuries. What we have attempted to accomplish in the doctoral students’ workshop is the analysis and formulation of these methods in a way that will make them readily applicable to all interdisciplinary research in Jewish studies.
The workshop met every third week, on Mondays, for four hours. The uniqueness of this workshop was that we opened part of each session to the public. During the public segment of the session, one of the doctoral students delivered a paper based on his or her ongoing research, and a veteran scholar from the field responded. This unique framework allowed our doctoral students to present the results of the new research methods we have been developing, and also gave them an opportunity to gain both experience and guidance in academic lecturing before an audience, and the ability to engage in open dialog with researchers from other fields.
- JTS Hebrew Publications: The offices of the Schocken Institute include JTS’s Hebrew publication program, which offers editions of talmudic and rabbinic texts, studies in Hebrew literature, and critical editions of medieval Hebrew poetry.