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.
The exceptional collection of decorated Hebrew prayer books in the British Library contains an intriguing work produced in Italy in 1469 CE. Dr Evelyn M Cohen explores its unique representations of women participating in Jewish rituals.Read more
Jonnie Schnytzer reads between the lines of a commentary to The Book of Creation, and explores how copyists have the power to alter the meaning of secret symbols.Read more
The British Library Maḥzor Vitry is one of 11 preserved manuscript copies of the lost 11th-century original attributed to Simḥah ben Samuel of Vitry. Dr Justine Isserles revisits this highly significant manuscript.Read more
Most readers of the Bible feel that they sometimes need an explanation – a gloss – to understand a text written and edited many centuries before it reached their hands. Dr Javier del Barco looks particularly into the practice of producing glossed Hebrew Bibles in medieval Ashkenaz.Read more
The catalogue records for the British Library’s collection of Hebrew manuscripts are remarkably diverse and informative. Dr Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert explores how this data can be further improved and standardised in preparation for scholarly analysis.Read more
Before the age of printing, the texts and layouts of Hebrew works were not standardised. This is because the transmission of works was out of the hands of their authors and in the hands of scribes. Dr Israel Sandman considers the intervention of scribes when copying Hebrew scientific works.Read more
Using the work of the Library’s Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project, Dr Yossi Chajes examines ‘visual Kabbalah’, its interpretations and its importanceRead more
By looking into Jewish mystical texts and the use of names in Jewish magic, Dr Agata Paluch considers the use of divine and angelic names to gain special powers, cast magic, or even attain unification with God.Read more
Mazal tov ve-siman tov (Good Luck and Good Sign): Jewish marriage contracts in the British Library’s Hebrew collectionMonday, June 17, 2019
The celebration of a marriage is one of Judaism’s happiest and most joyous communal events. Jewish Wedding Song Siman Tov & Mazal Tov (YouTube) To mark the occasion a marriage contract – a ketubah  (literally ‘a writ’) is drawn...
Why are these Haggadah manuscripts different from all other Hebrew manuscripts? On all other nights we avoid spilling wine in our books, But on this particular night, it is unavoidable. Reading the Haggadah and pouring wine. Brother Haggadah, Spain, 14th...
Would you like some help in your pursuit of your beloved? Our Hebrew manuscript collection can offer numerous love potion recipes and incantations, and now is the best time of year to share some of this wisdom with you. Whether...
We are delighted to announce that five more downloadable datasets containing a total of 139 digitised Hebrew Manuscripts have just been published online here, bringing the total number of Hebrew datasets to 22, and 723 manuscripts. These manuscripts were digitised...