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About the Project

The Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is a repository for documentation of Jewish visual art through the ages. The documentary materials, collected by the Center's researchers over the past 34 years in 41 countries, span the entire range of Jewish history. They depict archeological artifacts found in Israel, illuminated Hebrew manuscripts created by Jews in the Diaspora, ritual objects and synagogues from all over the world, and modern art by contemporary Jewish artists. The full documentation of each item consists of photographic images, exact dimensions, architectonic drawings of structures, and verbal descriptions. Special attention is paid to iconographic elements, references to source texts, and local customs, some of which are now obsolete.
This documentary evidence is known collectively as the Bezalel Narkis Iconographic Index of Jewish Art. It enables researchers to trace the development of each iconographic theme and its chronological and geographic variations. In other words, the research facilitated by the Index anchors each object  in the period and place in which it was created. Its extensive scope, which encompasses every aspect of Jewish visual culture, lends the Index of Jewish Art its status as the largest virtual museum of Jewish culture in the world.
 
At this stage, the project aspires to make core sections of the Index of Jewish Art available to the general public online. Thus far, some 72,000 images depicting Jewish art from twenty countries have been digitized. The digitization and cataloging are funded by the Rothschild Foundation Europe, the Prime Minister's Office ("Landmarks" Program) and the Harvard Library’s Judaica Division (through the Library’s Judaica Book Fund endowments established by David B. Keidan). This is a unique collection, of great importance to scholars of Jewish art, history and culture, as well as to members of the general public with an interest in the Jewish past and genealogy.

These 72,000 items are the first stage in digitization of the Center for Jewish Art's collections. Over the next year and a half the core of the collections – an additional 110,000 images and some 6,000 drawings of synagogues – will be digitized and made available online. The project is a collaboration of the Center for Jewish Art with the National Library and the Harvard Library’s Judaica Division with the support of the Rothschild Foundation Europe, the Prime Minister's Office ("Landmarks" Program) and the Harvard Library Judaica Division (through the Library’s Judaica Book Fund endowments established by David B. Keidan).
 
Additional Support to CJA's activity is provided by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc. (Claims Conference).

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Digitization Center at the National Library

​The project is made possible through the generous support of: