Hebraica and Judaica


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Columbia University has been collecting rare Hebraica and Judaica for over 120 years.

In 2012, Columbia mounted a major exhibition of the Hebraica and Judaica manuscripts entitled The People in the Books, which shows the broad and deep scope of the collection.

The Judaica collection currently contains:

  • About 1600 manuscripts
  • 29 incunabula
  • 350 sixteenth-century books
  • Thousands of books from the 17th – 18th centuries
  • Various archival material relating to prominent people in Jewish Studies
  • Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry

Columbia’s Hebrew manuscript collection is one of the largest of its kind in North America, containing more manuscripts than the combined holdings of Harvard University, Yale University, the Library of Congress, and the University of Pennsylvania.  At this time, there are over 1500 records in CLIO, Columbia’s online catalog, for the Hebraica and Judaica manuscripts in our collection.

The manuscript collection is very diverse, covering many different times and places.  The manuscripts span the 10th – 19th centuries. Many originate from Italy, but other places of origin include France, Greece, Persia, Yemen, North Africa, and the Netherlands.  It also includes one of the most important collections for the study of Byzantine Jewry.

Topics include philosophy, kabbalah (including some early works and many manuscripts from the Lurianic school), liturgy (prayerbooks and mahzorim), Jewish law, Rabbinic texts and related commentaries, poetry, Bible and its exegesis, responsa, letters from individuals and communities, historical documents, Ketubot (marriage contracts), documents from the Cairo Genizah and other general literature.