Ilana Tahan

Ilana Tahan
Lead Curator Hebrew and Christian Orient Studies
Hebrew manuscripts and printed books; manuscripts and imprints in Jewish languages using Hebrew script
Related Offices
Joint convenor of the Hebraica Libraries Group, UK; member of the European Association of Jewish Studies

Ilanna is the Lead Curator of the on-going Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project which began in 2013. The project aims at providing free digital access to around 3000 manuscripts held in the Library’s Hebrew collection.

Ilana's main areas of research are:

  • Hebrew manuscripts and printed books
  • Hebrew manuscript illumination and decoration
  • landmarks in the history of Hebrew printing
  • manuscripts and printed books in Judeo-Spanish (Ladino)
  • Hebrew (including Judeo-Arabic) imprints from Iraq, India, North Africa, and other Jewish diasporas
  • memorial volumes to Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust (Yizkor books)
  • history of the British Library’s Hebrew collections
  • history of British Library’s Christian Orient collections.

Based on these interests Ilana curated the Judaic/Hebraic component of SACRED, a major exhibition held at the Library in 2007, and wrote the relevant Judaic labels for the exhibition catalogue.



  • The Brother Haggadah. A Medieval Sephardi Masterpiece in Facsimile. An illuminated Passover compendium from mid-fourteenth-century Catalonia in the collections of the British Library (London: Thames & Hudson, 2016) [with Marc M. Epstein, Raphael Loewe, Jeremy Schonfield and Eliezer Laine]
  • Hebrew manuscripts: the power of script and image (London: the British Library, 2007)
  • Sacred: books of the Three Faiths Judaism, Christianity, Islam, ed. by John Reeve (London: the British Library, 2007) [catalogue contributions with Colin F. Baker, Kathleen Doyle, Scot McKendrick, Vrej Nersessian]
  • Memorial volumes to Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust: a bibliography of British Library holdings (London: The British Library, 2004)

Journal articles

  • 'Review: Illuminating: a history of beautiful Jewish manuscripts', The Times Literary Supplement, 24 June 2016
  • 'Judeo-Spanish manuscripts in the British Library’s Hebrew collection', European Judaism, 43 (2010), 134-152
  • 'The Hebrew collection of the British Library: past and present', European Judaism, 41 (2008), 43-55


  • Five Hundred years of Armenian printing (British Library Ritblatt Gallery, November 2012 - January 2013)
  • Sacred (British Library PACCAR Gallery, 2007) [Judaic/Hebraic component]
  • 350th anniversary to the re-admission of the Jews to Britain (British Library Ritblatt Gallery, Autumn 2006)
  • Moses Maimonides 1135-1204 (British Library Ritblatt Gallery, Autumn 2004)
  • Illustrated printed Haggadot (British Library Ritblatt Gallery, March 2002)


Middle East

Manuscripts, printed books, newspapers and journals from the Middle East, Iran and Central Asia