Tag Archives: Secondary Sources

New Acquisition: Kotar (Hebrew e-books from Israeli presses)

A collaboration of leading Israeli publishers, Kotar is a large collection of reference materials, scholarly books, biographies, and other materials related to Israeli and Jewish topics. Kotar aims to provide students, teachers, and scholars with the best sources of information published over the last 50 years in Hebrew, along with an online work environment. Kotar resources span Israel studies; Israeli culture, literature, history, education, and sociology; and other selected topics in the humanities and social sciences.

It is now available here: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio11895583 to Columbia affiliates with a uni and password

New Databases for the new academic year! Hebrew books and Talmud Index

Just in time for the beginning of the Fall semester, I am pleased to announce the purchase of two new databases for Columbia’s Judaica collection:

1. Otzar HaHochma – a database of 72,700 digitized Hebrew books, from the 15th century to the present day.  Includes books from the presses of Mossad HaRav Kook and Mekhon Yerushalayim.  Note that the interface is mostly in Hebrew.

2. Lieberman Index of References Dealing with Talmudic Literature – an index of resources, both modern and ancient, that reference the Talmud.  Organized by Talmudic page, this is an incredible resource for anyone doing research on the Talmud.

New Electronic Resources: Hebrew-language journals and dictionaries

I am very pleased to announce that we have recently purchased some very important electronic collections for Jewish Studies research at Columbia.  Two collections of journal archives, including many Hebrew journals in the fields of art, Bible, history, folklore, philosophy, and many other topics, are now available through JSTOR via the Jewish Studies Collection and the Hebrew Journals Collection (click links for full title lists and coverage dates)

Additionally, Columbia users will now also have digital access to two important new Jewish language dictionaries; The Otsar ha-lashon ha-Spanyolit (Ladino) le-doroteha : milon maḳif hisṭori (Treasury of Ladino Language and Historical Dictionary) and the digital version of the  Yidish ṿerṭerbukh, which recently won the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Judaica Reference Award.

Important upgrades: RAMBI and Bar Ilan Responsa

Ladies and Gentlemen, drumroll please – we have fantastic news about updates from two of the most important resources in Jewish Studies:

1) RAMBI, the Index to Articles in Jewish Studies, profiled here, sent the below email yesterday:

"Subject searching in RAMBI, The Index to Articles in Jewish Studies, is being changed so that searching a subject either in English or in Hebrew will retrieve both Hebrew and European language articles.


This change is being gradually introduced and we hope will be completed by the summer. Until then, if a search retrieves articles only in the script of the search term we recommend searching also under the alternate script term."

This is a major change which should halve searching time, as previously one had to search separately in Roman characters and in Hebrew for subjects in both character sets.

2) The Bar Ilan Responsa Project has now added features to support Aramaic and acronym (ראשי תיבות) searchability:

  • Dictionary for both acronyms and Hebrew-Aramaic/Aramaic-Hebrew
  • Ability to search acronyms and Aramaic in the database
  • "Fast reference": While browsing a text, you can now highlight an Aramaic word or an acronym, and a pop-up will provide a Hebrew explanation/translation

Harvard’s Judaica Library Publications – available freely online!

Libraries tend to be dedicated to open access, devoted to making their collections available to anyone in need of research.  With a recent announcement from a Harvard Judaica Librarian, we see that Harvard is definitely on board with this.  The Judaica publications that they have digitized include work on Yiddish language and literature, Israel Studies, Judaica Librarianship, and other important scholarship, such as a lecture given in 1985 at Harvard by the recently deceased scholar Paula Hyman: The Dreyfus affair : turning point in Jewish history?.

All of these publications are now freely available through Harvard’s catalog (see link below).


Harvard Library Judaica Division’s publications now online

I am pleased to inform you that some 100 publications issued by the Harvard Library’s Judaica Division over the last fifty years are now available online (see link below).


They include catalogs of exhibitions  from Harvard’s Judaica Collection, lectures and articles related to aspects of the Judaica Collection, proceedings of library conferences held by the Judaica Division, catalogs of segments of the Judaica Collection, monographs in the Harvard Judaica Collection Student Research Papers series, and materials distributed in connection with Judaica fundraising.


We are pleased to make them available online in connection with the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary of the Judaica Division which will be commemorated in the 2012/13 academic year and as part of our ongoing efforts to make an ever-increasing segment of the Harvard Judaica Collection available online.


These publications were issued in limited editions and distributed mainly to Judaica libraries, faculty and donors and many are now out of print. Making them available online in this fashion makes them conveniently and freely accessible to all.


To access these online publications, click on the link:


You may also access them by looking in Harvard’s online catalog Hollis Classic (http://hollisclassic.harvard.edu) under the title:

   Judaica e-books : Harvard Judaica Library publications – Batch 1


We hope that these publications will be of interest.


Judaica Division

Harvard Library

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA 02138, USA


617-495-2985 (tel)

617-496-9112 (fax)

Staying on top of research: Rambi feeds and Google Reader

With so much work being published in so many different forums in today’s world, it is hard to know when relevant research is published. 

Enter a match made in heaven: RAMBI feeds and Google Reader!

RAMBI, discussed earlier here, is a catalog of articles and chapters in the field of Jewish Studies.  RAMBI allows scholars to select an RSS feed from a choice of 17 topics straight to your feed reader.  In this way, you can be informed of cutting edge research as it is being published (or shortly thereafter).

As an example: Columbia University Libraries contains a tremendous collection of rare materials relating to the Jews of Corfu, and thus I am very interested in anything that is published about this community of Jews.  Naturally, I have Modern History as one of my feeds from RAMBI.  It was thus that I noticed a new article, "Privileges, legality and prejudice : the Jews of Corfu on the way to isolation," published in an Italian book ("Interstizi"; culture ebraico-cristiane a Venezia e nei suoi domini dal Medioevo all’età moderna), which I otherwise may not have seen.  And, of course, since it is shelved in Butler, I can go pick it up at my leisure.

Highly recommended for those interested in finding out the latest research in your fields! 

Hat Tip: Menachem Butler and the Talmud Blog

RAMBI: The Index to Articles in Jewish Studies

One of the first things to do before embarking on any research is to check the current work on the topic being studied.  In many cases, this can be very daunting: How do I find what has already been done?  Sure, I can check CLIO to see if there are books published in my area of interest, but it can be hard to tell from the title or subjects listed in a CLIO record whether a book is relevant to my research.  This can become especially hard with journals or edited volumes, which don’t include the titles of every chapter or article in the CLIO record.

For example:

Let’s say I am interested in finding out more information about a book printed in Mantua in 1474, called Nofet Tsufim.  A search of CLIO for "Nofet Tsufim" as a keyword leads to seven books, two of which are relevant.  It turns out that the two records are really for the same book, one of which is at Burke, and one at Butler.  Okay, this is definitely a start.  The book is a reprint of the original, with some comments in the introduction that are helpful for understanding the background of the book’s printing.  But where do I go now for more information?

The answer is RAMBI.  RAMBI has indexed (i.e. created a catalog record) for nearly every article or chapter dealing with Jewish Studies.  When I put the same keywords in my search in RAMBI ("Nofet Tsufim"), I got 5 results, all of which were relevant to my research, and all from books/journals that I never would have picked up otherwise in my searching (Frank Talmage Memorial Volume, Prooftexts, Rhetorica, etc.).  The results list the year and page numbers where my articles are found, and so all I have to do is check CLIO to see if we have it, and if we don’t, I can request a PDF copy of the chapter or article via Interlibrary Loan.

New Resource: Thesaurus of the Hebrew Book

I am pleased to announce that Columbia University Libraries has recently purchased the Vinograd Thesaurus of the Hebrew Book.  This database, available only on DVD, is a very-much updated version of the print edition (located in Butler Reference: R016.4924 V56).  This searchable database lists of all books printed in Hebrew characters from 1468-1948 (including Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic).

The database lists title, author, publication information (date, place, and printer), and pagination, as well as the source for the identification of the book (sometimes this is a reference work; sometimes it is a physical library).  Additional notes, indicating language (if other than Hebrew) and previous auction sale information, are very useful.  It is a very good resource for finding and identifying Hebrew-script books, and, used in conjunction with the Bibliography of the Hebrew Book (available only from a Columbia computer), is invaluable for research in the Hebrew book.

The DVD can be accessed by contacting Michelle Chesner, Librarian for Jewish Studies (mc3395@columbia.edu; 212-854-8046).

Faculty and doctoral students: Borrow books from NYPL and NYU!

On March 18, 2011, "The New York Public Library and the libraries of Columbia University and New York University have launched a pilot initiative to expand access and use of collections and better serve their users.  The collaboration, dubbed the Manhattan Research Library Initiative (MaRLI), will enable NYU and Columbia doctoral students, full-time faculty and librarians, and approved New York Public Library cardholders with a demonstrable research need not met by currently available resources, to borrow materials from all three institutions."

Both NYPL and NYU have extensive and important Judaica collections, and this will be the first time that NYPL’s research collections will circulate (albeit with exceptions).

For more information about the MaRLI, and to register, go here:  http://www.columbia.edu/cu/libraries/projects/marli.html


New Book: Palaces of Time, by Prof. Elisheva Carlebach

 Congratulations to Columbia Professor Elisheva Carlebach on the publication of her newest book, Palaces of Time, by Harvard University Press.

From the description:

"From one of the leading historians of the Jewish past comes a stunning look into a previously unexamined dimension of Jewish life and culture: the calendar. In the late sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII instituted a momentous reform of Western timekeeping, and with it a period of great instability. Jews, like all minority cultures in Europe, had to realign their time-keeping to accord with the new Christian calendar.

Elisheva Carlebach shows that the calendar is a complex and living system, constantly modified as new preoccupations emerge and old priorities fade. Calendars serve to structure time and activities and thus become mirrors of experience. Through this seemingly mundane and all-but-overlooked document, we can reimagine the quotidian world of early modern Jewry, of market days and sacred days, of times to avoid Christian gatherings and times to secure communal treasures. In calendars, we see one of the central paradoxes of Jewish existence: the need to encompass the culture of the other while retaining one’s own unique culture. Carlebach reveals that Jews have always lived in multiple time scales, and demonstrates how their accounting for time, as much as any cultural monument, has shaped Jewish life.

After exploring Judaica collections around the world, Carlebach brings to light these textually rich and beautifully designed repositories of Jewish life. With color illustrations throughout, this is an evocative illumination of how early modern Jewish men and women marked the rhythms and realities of time and filled it with anxieties and achievements."

The Columbia Hebrew Manuscript collection has many of these calendars, but none as profusely decorated as the one described here.

N. B. There will be a brief talk/book signing at Columbia University Bookstore, this coming Wed. night (4/6) at 6pm.