Exploring and Revealing the John Rylands Library’s Hebrew Collections

Philip Alexander (Professor Emeritus of Post-Biblical Jewish Literature, The University of Manchester), Alexander Samely (Professor of Jewish Thought, The University of Manchester), Zsofia Buda (Research Associate, The University of Manchester)

Illuminated Sephardi Haggadah. Square Sephardi script. Mid-14th century.
Illuminated Sephardi Haggadah. Square Sephardi script. Mid-14th century.

Our Hebrew collections are internationally renowned and are one of the top four such collections in the UK. The manuscript collections of c.600 codices, scrolls and other texts in Hebrew script, plus c.15,000 Cairo Genizah fragments, are astonishingly diverse, covering all aspects of Jewish life as lived in the Middle East, Europe and further afield.

They contain many outstanding manuscripts that urgently require specialist attention to catalogue, digitise, conserve and study them. This vital work will transform academic and public knowledge and understanding of the cultures, communities and religions represented in these texts.

With the generous support of several individuals and trusts, we are producing an online catalogue of the codices, scrolls and other texts in Hebrew script from the Crawford and Moses Gaster collections. We have already digitised c.100 manuscripts in Hebrew script and Gaster’s c.200 amulets. However, further funding is urgently required to complete the project and in particular to digitise the remaining manuscripts.