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This is a guide to resources for Hebrew & Jewish Studies available during the COVID-19 outbreak. It will be updated as new resources become available. Updates will also be posted on Twitter. For general information please see the guide to Library essentials for students and staff during Covid-19.
Don’t forget that UCL Libraries provide access to many online resources, which UCL students and staff can access from off campus, using their UCL userid and password. NB for many resources, Explore provides the only way to log in when you are off campus.
These are the resources most relevant to Hebrew & Jewish Studies.
Temporarily available electronic resources
In addition to our subscribed digital library, certain publishers are providing temporary access to their collections for a limited period. The list of electronic resources with temporary access during Covid-19 is dynamic and constantly being updated. Individual ebooks will be accessible via Explore in due course.
Jewish Studies resources
BiblioRossica A portal which offers expertly selected collections devoted to the most relevant areas of modern Russian and Jewish Humanities. Free access for UCL students and staff until 1st June 2020.
British Online Archives Records drawn from both private and public archives, organised thematically. Includes material relating to the Holocaust and Israel/Palestine. Free access for UCL students and staff until 30th April 2020. Sign in using ‘Find your Institution’.
Cambridge Archive Editions Near and Middle East and Slavic, Balkan and Caucasus collections. Original documents from the National Archives (UK), including numerous maps, on the national heritage and political development of many countries. Free access for UCL students and staff until 14th June 2020.
Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary Free access for UCL students and staff until 30th June 2020.
Confidential Print: Middle East, 1839-1969 (Archives Direct) Papers generated by the British Foreign and Colonial Offices. Free access for UCL students and staff until 26th June 2020.
Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 Free access for UCL students and staff until 26th June 2020.
Jewish Life in America c1654-1954 Sources from the American Jewish Historical Society in New York. Free access for UCL students and staff until 26th June 2020.
Otzar HaHochma Digital library encompassing all realms of Judaism from ancient times to the modern period. The basic version (91,000 books) has been made available to the public, at no charge, until further notice.
Free electronic resources
Open access content
Brill publishes open access books and articles in Jewish Studies and related fields.
Brown Judaic Studies About 50 titles from this series are now freely available.
Open Book Publishers is an independent open access publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the UK.
RAMBI Index of Articles on Jewish Studies.
Bibliography of the Hebrew Book Books printed in Hebrew characters 1470-1960.
Index to Yiddish Periodicals Materials published in the Yiddish press in Eastern Europe, the United States and Palestine/Israel.
Newspapers and periodicals
Union List of Digitized Jewish Historic Newspapers, Periodicals and e-Journals Links to digital content (some require a subscription – check Explore).
Historical Jewish Press Jewish newspapers published in various countries, languages, and time periods.
Jewish Encyclopedia (1906 edition).
Biblical and rabbinic literature
Sefaria Biblical and rabbinic texts in Hebrew and English (mobile app also available).
Hebrewbooks.org Rabbinic texts and secondary literature.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum The Holocaust Encyclopedia and other online content.
EHRI Portal Access to information on Holocaust-related archival material held in institutions across Europe and beyond.
Hebrew and Yiddish
לקסיקון הספרות העברית החדשה Bio-bibliographical lexicon of modern Hebrew literature.
Yiddish Book Center Digital Library & Collections Yiddish books, audiobooks, recorded lectures, oral history, yizkor books, Yiddish children’s literature.
Yiddish Leksikon Biographical dictionary of modern Yiddish literature, translated into English.
Yiddish Sources Portal for anyone interested in Yiddish and Yiddish Studies.
Digital library collections
Jewish Digital Collections and Jewish Study Guides Directory of digitised Jewish materials from libraries and other organisations worldwide.
Judaica Europeana Integrated access to digital collections which document the Jewish presence and heritage in Europe.
Internet subject gateways
Teaching Resources List of online resources from the British Association for Jewish Studies.
Jewish Studies Research Guide Guide to doing research in various fields of Jewish Studies from Columbia University Libraries.
The Jewish Guide to the Internet Directory of Jewish websites.
The following books are now available electronically:
The Arabs and the Holocaust : the Arab-Israeli war of narratives Gilbert Achcar. New York : Saqi, 2012.
Memories of absence : how Muslims remember Jews in Morocco Aomar Boum. Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press: 2013.
Legacy of blood : Jews, pogroms, and ritual murder in the lands of the Soviets Elissa Bemporad. New York, NY : Oxford University Press: 2019.
Farming the red land : Jewish agricultural colonization and local Soviet power, 1924-1941 Jonathan L. Dekel-Chen. New Haven, CT ; London : Yale University Press: 2005.
Israel in history : the Jewish state in comparative perspective Derek J. Penslar. London : Routledge: 2006.
Phase 3 of the Uncovering UCL’s Jewish Pamphlet Collections project is now well under way. Last academic year we started a pilot Connected Curriculum initiative in partnership with UCL’s Department of Hebrew & Jewish Studies, where student volunteers helped to enhance the digitised pamphlets with accurate searchable transcriptions. The pilot will continue next academic year: if you’re interested in taking part, contact us for details. The group of volunteers was led by Hebrew & Jewish Studies PhD student William Pimlott, who selected a shortlist of pamphlets for the volunteers to choose from. William has also curated an exhibition, Snapshots of Modern Jewish History. He presented the exhibition to UCL students, staff and members of the public in June as part of UCL Special Collections Presents… and it is now installed in cases outside the Donaldson Room in the Main Library until 13th August. William writes “UCL Special Collections is endowed with remarkable documents that testify to the richness of modern Jewish history. Here we have selected a few that would interest the public and encourage visitors to step deeper into our collections.” Here are the items included in the exhibition, with links to the digitised pamphlets:
- Todah ṿe-ḳol zimrah = Form of prayer and thanksgiving for the successes obtained by the troops of Her Majesty and those of her allies in the Crimea … to be used in all the Synagogues of the United Congregations in the British Empire… London: Wertheimer, 1855.
Many immigrant British Jews identified proudly with the country they had made their home, and celebrations of military successes were occasions for manifestations of patriotism. This pamphlet is especially interesting as relations between Russia and Britain were important for British Jews due to the large Jewish population in the region.
2. Davis, Israel. Sir Moses Montefiore: a biographical sketch. London: “Jewish Chronicle” Office, 1885. From the library of Albert Montefiore Hyamson.
A towering figure across the world, and viewed by some historians as a crucial figure in the development of Jewish celebrities (some argue that Theodor Herzl took on this mantle), Montefiore lived for over a hundred years and was a crucial actor in British communal politics. His enormous philanthropy made Britain an important player in international Jewish developments too.
3. Montefiore, Moses. An appeal on behalf of the famishing Jews in the Holy Land. London: Wertheimer, 1854. Donated to the Mocatta Library by the Guildhall Library London.
Long before mass immigration to Palestine started there was a community of Jews in the Middle East that needed international support. This pamphlet calls for help but also plays a secondary function, fostering a sense of Jewish international solidarity.
4. Some account of the two journeys to Russia, undertaken by Sir M. Montefiore, Bart., in 1846 and 1872, to further the interests of the Russian Jews. London: Darling and Son, 1882. From the library of Asher Myers.
The demographic and cultural importance of Russian Jewry for international Jewry was indisputable, and the vulnerable situation they faced in Tsarist Russia (and in the context of other nationalisms developing in the region) provoked intense interest and concern for Jews across the world. Montefiore, as a leading international philanthropic Jewish leader, was involved in attempts to help them.
5. Highton, Henry. Syllabus of a course of lectures, addressed especially to Jews, to be delivered in … Whitechapel, London, on the subject of the Messiah as revealed in the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets … [London: s.n., 1844] From the library of Asher Myers
Includes a handwritten letter to the editor of the Voice of Jacob, a Jewish newspaper, requesting him to include this syllabus in the next edition, and the editor’s reply, explaining why this would not be appropriate.
The East End of London has had Jewish connections dating back much further than the mass immigration of the 1880s onwards, and as long as there have been Jews there have been attempts by Christians to convert them.
6. The struggle for the Hebrew language in Palestine. Issued in German by the Actions Committee of the Zionist Organization; translated for the Federation of American Zionists. New York: [Federation of American Zionists], 1914. From the library of Albert Montefiore Hyamson.
It is now universally accepted that the language of Israel is Hebrew, but in the early pre-State years language was a fiercely contested issue, with many German Jews (and others) arguing that German ought to be the language of its scientific institutions. This pamphlet reports on this conflict (which Hebrew eventually won).
7. La Grande-Bretagne, la Palestine et les Juifs: le peuple juif célèbre sa charte nationale (Great Britain, Palestine and the Jews: the Jewish people celebrates its national charter). [London]: Organisation Sioniste, Bureau de Londres, 1918. From the library of Albert Montefiore Hyamson.
The Balfour declaration of 1917 was pivotal in Zionism’s development and the later establishment of the state of Israel. This pamphlet, printed in French, shows how Jewish communities all over the world linked Great Britain (and the Jewish community there) with the future of Zionism.
8. Great Britain. Air Ministry. Dos girangl fun Briṭanye: a din ṿe-ḥeshbn fun der lufṭ‑minisṭerye ṿegn di groyse ṭeg fun 8ṭn oygusṭ bizn 31ṭn oḳṭober 1940 (The Battle of Britain: an account from the Air Ministry about the greats days from the 8th of August to the 31st of October). Souvenir copy commemorating the Battle of Britain, in aid of the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund. [London: Galil Pub. Co., 1942?]
Yiddish was once a much more widely spoken language in Britain than it is today: there were newspapers, literary journals, weekly publications, theatres and artistic clubs and groups. This information pamphlet in Yiddish printed by the Government was designed to inform British Yiddish speakers (and perhaps those abroad) about one of the most crucial aerial battles of all time.
We are delighted to announce that Phase 3 of the Uncovering UCL’s Jewish Pamphlet Collections project is now under way, after a successful funding application. In the first two phases of the project (2014-2017), we
- catalogued 5,338 pamphlets
- conserved 523 pamphlets
- digitised 172 pamphlets
In the third phase we plan to:
- produce fully accurate embedded transcriptions of the digitised pamphlets to make them accessible to a wider and non-specialist audience
- enhance the metadata that accompanies the digital images
- catalogue around 3,000 boxed pamphlets, which come from various sources and cover a wide variety of subjects
- digitise more pamphlets, producing around 4,000 digital images
We are also collaborating with UCL’s Department of Hebrew & Jewish Studies on a pilot Connected Curriculum initiative, where student volunteers are producing transcriptions of individual pamphlets. Later in the year there will be an exhibition of these pamphlets including interpretation of the images by the students.
**Update 29/8/17 1pm**
The work was completed well ahead of schedule and the reading room is now open.
The sections affected will be:
- HEBREW REF
- HEBREW A-Q
- HEBREW & YIDDISH periodicals (current issues and newspapers)
If you need anything from these sections, please ask at the Help Point on the first floor.
The remaining HEBREW & YIDDISH collections, which are now housed in the corridor and adjacent lobby, will remain available.
Apologies for any inconvenience.
The second phase of our Uncovering UCL’s Jewish Pamphlet Collections project is now complete! In this phase we have:
- conserved over 500 pamphlets with the help of specially trained volunteers
- catalogued another 1,300 pamphlets, including the Montefiore Bound Pamphlets and the Zionist pamphlets collected by Albert Montefiore Hyamson
- digitised 172 pamphlets, creating over 6,000 images. You can browse and search these on our website
The tears of a grateful people by Hyman Hurwitz. London: H. Barnett, 1820. A Hebrew funeral dirge for King George III, with an English translation by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, printed on satin (SR MOCATTA PAMPHLETS BOX 18)
We are now planning phase 3, so watch this space!
We now have access to the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR) Online. EBR offers a comprehensive and in-depth rendering of the current state of knowledge on the origins and development of the Bible in its different canonic forms in Judaism and Christianity. At the same time, EBR also documents the history of the Bible’s reception in the Christian churches and the Jewish Diaspora; in Islam, in other religious traditions and current religious movements, Western and non-Western alike, as well as in literature, art, music, and film.
We now have access to The Textual History of the Bible Online (THBO), a cross-searchable platform with all available information regarding the textual history, textual character, translation techniques, manuscripts, and the importance of each textual witness for each book of the Hebrew Bible, including its deutero-canonical scriptures.
In addition, it includes articles on the history of research, the editorial histories of the Hebrew Bible, as well as other aspects of text-critical research and its auxiliary fields, such as papyrology, codicology, and linguistics.
We’re giving the Hebrew & Jewish Studies reading room a makeover this summer. We’re adding additional study spaces at the south end of the room and installing 20 new PCs at the north end. The room will also get a new coat of paint.
The reading room is closed until around 2nd August while the building work takes place. Please ask at the Help Point if you need any books or journals from the room.
To make room for the new PCs we have moved some books and journals out into the adjacent corridor and into a new space at the north end of the corridor, next to Scandinavian.
We are still trying to decide what to call this area: the Jewish Studies lobby/vestibule/antechamber perhaps? Any suggestions welcome!
The new locations are:
- HEBREW REF: reading room (ask at Help Point while the room is closed)
- HEBREW A – Q: reading room (ask at Help Point while the room is closed)
- HEBREW R – W 6: corridor
- HEBREW W 6 (continued) – X: lobby
- HEBREW QUARTOS: lobby
- HEBREW FOLIOS: lobby
- HEBREW Periodicals: lobby (current issues are on display racks in the reading room; newspapers are also in the reading room: ask at Help Point while the room is closed)
- YIDDISH A – C 20: lobby
- YIDDISH C 20 (continued) – F: corridor
- YIDDISH QUARTOS: corridor
- YIDDISH Periodicals: corridor (newspapers are in the reading room: ask at Help Point while the room is closed)
Do ask a member if staff if you can’t find something
The digitisation part of the Uncovering UCL’s Jewish Pamphlet Collections project is now well under way. As with all digitisation projects (unless you’re fortunate enough to have funding to digitise an entire collection), selecting items has been a challenge. We have given priority to rare pamphlets which haven’t been digitised by other libraries, and have focused on a few themes, such as Jewish emancipation in England, and how the Jewish community marked royal or national occasions. For more on these themes, see this article by Professor Colin Shindler.