Library > News > Newsletter > 2014 > March 2014 > Unlocking the Treasures of the World’s Oldest Jewish Library

Unlocking the Treasures of the World’s Oldest Jewish Library

Founded in 1639 and located at the Portuguese Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam since 1675, Ets Haim\Livraria Montezinos is the world’s oldest functioning Jewish library. The library offers visitors a magnificent collection, housing close to 30,000 books and hundreds of rare manuscripts. The manuscripts consider the entire corpus of Jewish thought, but also include historical documents from the daily life of the community.

 

Now, in collaboration with the National Library of Israel, 560 of the manuscripts will be digitized and presented on the Ets Haim website. Today you will find 172 of these manuscripts, approximately 16,000 pages, available to the public. During the next two years the remaining texts will be made available. 
 
Behind the project is the vision to allow anyone, anywhere in the world, to see and read these treasures. As many of the manuscripts represent the only known copy of these texts, and access to originals is necessarily limited, the digitization project allows unmediated access to the rich content of these books. Advanced imaging technology allows the viewer to focus on details not available with the naked eye. This initiative allows these writings to come to life in a way never before imagined. 
 
“The holdings of Ets Haim\Livraria Montezinos are recognized both for their literary and historical importance,” shares Dr. Aviad Stollman, Head of Collections for the National Library. “We are proud to be part of these important efforts to make these rare manuscripts available to the public.
 
To view the current collection, please visit the Ets Haim/Livraria Montezinos website at http://www.etshaimmanuscripts.nl