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Judaica Europeana Jewish collections online
French Ketubah
Click image to enlarge: A marriage contract dated 14th Nissan 5536 (1776), Bordeaux, France. © Collection of the Alliance Israélite Universelle Library, Paris.

National Library’s ketubot website
The National Library launched recently an enhanced website that presents over 4000 ketubot (marriage contracts) from its collection and from significant collections all over the world. Collections on the site include those of museums, universities, and personal holdings, including the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, the David Sofer collection in London, and the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Paris.

The value of this website is contained in its powerful search engine and beautiful, full-colour presentation. A basic search will yield examples of ketubot from places as diverse as Brooklyn and Singapore.  Many of the ketubot utilize the original Aramaic text, but a translation in the vernacular is often included.  The text is frequently enclosed in symbolic images including peacocks, a symbol of beauty and majesty, and fish, a symbol of fertility.  Many other ketubot include images of Jerusalem, as a representation of the long-standing hope to return to a rebuilt Jerusalem. These images also represent the new home that the newlyweds will be building as they start their lives together.

The National Library invites you to visit its newly designed ketubot website. With the opportunity to explore and research this vast archive, visitors can truly appreciate the ketubah as a symbol of Jewish continuity spanning continents, ethnicities and communities for over 2500 years.

News from the National Library of Israel

The National Library of Israel, a key partner in the Judaica Europeana network, provides expert support to collection holders in integrating their data in Europeana. We publish here some abridged highlights from a NLI newsletter, which relate closely to our work.

The National Library’s Digital Preservation Initiative
A visitor to the National Library’s website will be impressed by how easy it is for digital resources to come to life on screen.  What the visitor may not be aware of, however, is the National Library's digital preservation initiative, a systematic approach to fulfill the Library’s mandate to preserve for posterity and share the cultural legacy of Israel and the Jewish people. 21st century libraries and memory institutions face a common challenge: how best to perpetuate the traditional preservation functions of a library in the dynamic technological climate of the information age. 

NLI DigitalPreservation Lab scanner
Click image to enlarge.

Given the constantly shifting technological environment, a digital preservation strategy is much more complicated than simply scanning a rare manuscript or historic photograph.  The National Library’s digital preservation mechanisms utilize state-of-the-art technology in a facility that resembles a scene from a futuristic novel.  Even with existing equipment and skills, technological advances and changing formats require the NLI’s digital preservation team to continuously deploy new practices, considering how what is preserved today will be accessed in the future. The NLI works in consultation with peer institutions worldwide contending with these issues, and draws on the expertise available within Israel's hi-tech sector.    

“Market forces are constantly introducing newer, faster, bigger, and ‘better’ technologies for the production, distribution and storage of electronic information faster than we can keep up with,” shares Chezkie Kasnett, Digital Projects Manager for the National Library.  “The Library is very proud to be leading a conversation about best practices in digital preservation, and working with firms across Israel and around the world to develop new technologies in this arena.  This is a never-ending initiative that requires conscious, proactive effort to ensure that our digital records will be available into the distant future.”

Editor: Lena Stanley-Clamp, European Association for Jewish Culture, London
with contributions from the National Library of Israel, the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary,
the Steinheim Institute, the AthenaPlus and DM2E projects. | Contact us | Subscribe to Judaica Europeana Newsletter
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