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Jewish Studies

An overview of scholarly resources in Jewish Studies

Overview of the collection

Hebrew books and Judaica in other languages have been an integral part of the University of Chicago Library since its founding in 1892. Built by many bibliographers and subject and language specialists over the years, the collections are shaped by staff and faculty of the University and by the individuals whose private collections have been acquired and integrated into the Library's collections. The largest of these is the Ludwig ​Rosenberger Library of Judaica, a collection of over 17,000 titles documenting the social, cultural, and political history of the Jewish people. The Rosenberger Collection is available in the Special Collections Research Center.

The Judaica and Hebraica collection today includes more than 140,000 physical volumes as well as rich resources in microfilm. The Judaica collections enrich the Library's general holdings and are strengthened by the wealth of related and cognate materials available in the general collections.

To support the University's programs in Jewish studies the Library currently collects research materials ranging over a broad spectrum of topics that are of interest to many different departments. There are some general characteristics of the University Library that also are evident in these collections. Selection of materials proceeds without much regard to language. We acquire materials in whatever languages are relevant to scholarship. The collection emphasizes scholarly books or sources rather than popular or derivative works.

Some components of this collecting, such as Hebrew Bible, have their origin in the founding of the University of Chicago; other components have been added over time as interests and programs have grown and changed. Since the inauguration of a formal program in Jewish studies at the University of Chicago there are few materials that can be ruled out of scope for our interests, but present collecting focuses on clusters of several different topics. The most important foci of present collecting include the following areas:

The ancient near East

  • Jewish origins and the history of ancient Israel.
  • Early history and development of the Hebrew and cognate languages.
  • Hebrew Bible.
  • All primary source texts in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and cognate languages. This includes such diverse materials as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebrew Bible and the development of the Septuagint.
  • Archeology of Jewish sites throughout the ancient Mediterranean world.

Jewish life and culture in the Greco-Roman and Medieval world

  • Works of Hellenistic Jewish authors such as Philo and Josephus.
  • The full range of rabbinic texts from the Midrash, Mishnah, and both Talmuds up to halakhic codifier Joseph Caro.
  • Special attention is also given to Medieval literature, poetry, chronicles and histories. We acquire the full range of medieval philosophical, scientific and medical literature.
  • Sources of Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah.

Renaissance and Modern World

  • Jewish culture and its interactions throughout Europe, including regional and local history.
  • The Jewish emancipation in Europe.
  • The major figures and writings of the Haskalah and Wissenschaft des Judentums.
  • The origins and early history of Hebrew print and the Hebrew manuscript tradition.
  • Basic sources and personalities of modern religious movements: Hassidism and Musar movement.
  • Origins and development of Yiddish literature, including poetry and theater.
  • Origins and development of Zionism.

Contemporary Studies

  • World War II and the Holocaust.
  • Yizkor or memorial books assembled by survivors of towns liquidated by the Nazis.
  • Revival of Hebrew language and development of modern Hebrew literature with a rich selection of fiction, poetry and theater.
  • Founding of the State of Israel.
  • Contemporary Israeli society, culture and politics.
  • Israel's economic development and relationships with surrounding states.

Subject Specialist

Anne Knafl's picture
Anne Knafl
Joseph Regenstein Library, Room 462