From North Africa and Europe in the west, through the Middle East to China in the east, our collection of Hebrew manuscripts manifests Jewish cultural and social lives spanning a thousand years. Explore some of these newly digitised collection items, examine key themes in our collection, and read expert articles to learn more about Jewish wisdom, culture, history and religion.


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Featured themes

Jewish Liturgy

From Siddur to Seder – the order of prayers and their exact readings were transmitted throughout the years across all Jewish communities.

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Hebrew Manuscripts: Jewish Law

Jewish Law

Explore the Talmud, Halakhah and legal codes, and how they affect every aspect of Jewish life.

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New Technologies and Digital Research

New technologies and digital research

How can we digitally experience Hebrew manuscripts? How can we unravel their secrets using computational and scientific techniques?

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Illuminations and the Art of Writing

Illuminations and the art of writing

From full border illuminations to marginal micrography, which stories are revealed by these creative forms of art?

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Science and Medicine

Science and medicine

From the alignment of the stars to the zodiac, what were the scientific works of Jews and how were they transmitted?

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The Hebrew Bible

The Hebrew Bible

In which different forms have biblical texts been transmitted, and how was the accuracy of the holy text maintained?

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Jewish Communities

Jewish communities

What was it like to be a European, Middle Eastern, North African, or even Chinese Jew hundreds of years ago?

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Kabbalah and Mysticism

Kabbalah and mysticism

Explore the magical essence of words and the infinite creation of the physical and metaphysical universe.

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Featured Collection Items

View some of our unique collection items

The Brother Haggadah

Date: 1350-1374 CE

Sefer Torah Or 1462

Date: 15th century CE

Megilat Ester, Or 1047

Date: 17th century CE

The Sana'a Pentateuch

Date: 1469 CE

Blog posts

A Judeo-Persian epic, the Fath Nama (Book of Conquest)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

While art historical research has focussed on the beauty and splendour of Persian miniature paintings, the study of Judeo-Persian manuscript art has lagged behind, receiving only more recently the attention and recognition it deserves. These paintings form part and parcel...

A unique Judaeo-Urdu manuscript, Or.13287

Monday, July 31, 2017

The British Library’s sole Judaeo-Urdu manuscript is a copy in Hebrew script of the well-known Urdu theatrical work, the Indar Sabha, written by Agha Sayyid Hasan ‘Amanat,’ a poet at the court of Vajid Ali Shah of Awadh. Opening folio...

Take a feather and a candle: why thorough spring cleaning is so important

Friday, April 7, 2017

Looking through our collection of digitised Hebrew illuminated manuscripts, you may have noticed that amongst all of the biblical scenes and decorative letters, there are scenes of families cleaning their houses. Given the same spatial importance of scenes of lofty...

The Book of Esther and the Jewish Festival Purim

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Purim is undoubtedly one of the most boisterous, cheerful and joyous festivals in the Jewish calendar. It takes place in early spring on 14th of Adar which this year starts at sundown on March 11th. Purim celebrates the salvation of...

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