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

Blog posts

The Kaifeng Torah Scroll: A British Library Treasure

Monday, May 18, 2020

Theories abound on the date that Jews arrived in China. Some point to the period following Moses’ birth, others to the dispersion of the Ten Lost Tribes by the Assyrians in 720 BCE, and others to the Diaspora following the...

Mah Nishtanah? Why is Tonight different from all other nights? In celebration of Passover

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Passover is a major Jewish Spring festival that has been celebrated annually since ancient times. It typically falls between late March and late April, and marks the Israelites’ liberation from Egyptian bondage through divine intervention, as told in the biblical...

Hands off! This book is mine! Ownership inscriptions in Hebrew manuscripts

Monday, March 16, 2020

Making notes in a book in not always an act of vandalism. Sometimes it is an act of caring. I often put my name in my own books before lending them. And I am not the only one. Manuscripts were...

Until the donkey ascends the ladder: Hebrew scribal formulae

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Johanan, having copied a manuscript in Tivoli in 1514 in neat Sefardi script, describes himself in the colophon as “the smallest of the disciples, who laps up the dust of the feet of the sages, the servant of their disciples…...

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