Yale has a long and rich tradition in the study of Jewish religion, history, and thought dating back to Yale's founding, when Hebrew language was a required course of study. An undergraduate major in Judaic Studies, and a graduate program training future academic leaders, was begun in the mid-1980s.
Following the receipt of two major gifts in 1915, the Yale Library established a separate Judaica collection, which is recognized as one of the major collections of Judaica in the country. The focus of the approximately 300,000-volume collection, which includes manuscripts and rare books, is biblical, classical, medieval, and modern periods of Jewish literature and history, and supports the research needs of the faculty and students of the university's Judaic Studies Program and of the broader academic community.
Rare materials are housed in the Manuscripts and Archives Department of the Sterling Memorial Library and in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Among the rare and unusual Judaica at the Beinecke Library are some 200 manuscripts and 45 incunabula. Special features include the Alexander Kohut Memorial Collection of Judaica, Selah Merrill Collection of Josephus, the Goodhart Collection of Philo imprints, and the Sholem Asch Collection, a collection of illuminated Jewish marriage contracts, and a collection of Jewish illuminated votive plaques. Items of interest in Manuscripts and Archives include the North African Jewish Manuscript Collection, the collection of Jewish community registers, the papers of the Palestine Statehood Committee, and Yale's official records documenting the history of Jews at Yale.
Departments/disciplines/programs/subject areas supported
The Judaica Collection supports the Program in Judaic Studies, the Department of Religious Studies, the Divinity School, the History Department, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
The social, religious, and cultural lives of the Jewish people throughout the ages are reflected in the Library's collections. These include Bible, Talmud, religious law, later rabbinic literature, Sephardic (Spanish-Jewish) studies, history (ancient and modern), Jewish philosophy and modern thought.
As a rule, the Judaica Collection does not acquire textbooks or materials translated into Hebrew from English, or other languages. However, exceptions are made when the translations are by well-known writers of poetry or prose, or when specific translations are requested by faculty, visiting scholars or graduate students.
Although Yale’s concentration of Judaica research material is housed in the Sterling Memorial Library, resources in Judaic studies can be found in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Divinity Library, the Gilmore Music Library, the Arts of the Book Collection and the Goldman Law Library.
Books, manuscripts, serials (paper and online), newspapers (mostly online), online databases, microform, DVDs.
English, Hebrew, Yiddish, French, German, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Spanish, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Hungarian, Romanian, Polish, Russian.
Chronological and geographical focus
There is no chronological focus to the collection. The time range ranges from antiquity to the present.
There is also no specific geographical focus. The history and culture of Jewish life spans many parts of the world. The collection includes books and manuscripts from Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere.
Collaborations within Yale
- Beinecke Library
- Arts Library
- Slavic Collection
- South Asia Collection
- Music Library
- Bass Library
- Manuscripts and Archives
National Library of Israel