The Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

The collection of Hebrew manuscripts of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin comprises over 500 volumes in Hebrew script. Even though most of them belong to the Semitic languages and thus to the Afro-Asian language family, the geographical origin and content of the Hebraica manuscripts vary greatly: alongside magnificently illuminated Hebrew Bible manuscripts from Italy, there are Judeo-Arabic responsa from Yemen, Yiddish Bible translations from the Ashkenazi region, Judeo-Persian poetry, Hebrew prayers from North Africa and much more.

The first Hebrew manuscripts came to the Churfürstliche Bibliothek zu Cölln an der Spree, as it was then called, at the end of the 17th century; at the end of the 19th century, the collection was systematically assembled and also catalogued by Moritz Schneider. Since the Hebrew manuscripts survived the Second World War largely unscathed, recent acquisitions could build on an already exceptional collection.

Starting in 2015, around 160 manuscripts were digitised in a one-year digitisation project funded by the National Library of Israel. Since 2018, work has been underway on the digitisation of around 280 manuscripts in another third-party-funded project. Once the project will be completed in early 2023, the greater part of the collection of Hebrew manuscripts at Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin will be digitally available to researchers and other interested parties.

Qalamos serves as the central reference tool for the Hebrew manuscripts of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. It invites cooperating institutions to use the database for recording their Hebrew manuscript collections. The International Digital Library of Hebrew Manuscripts at the National Library of Israel remains the most comprehensive and diverse database, as it aims at providing a complete record of all Hebrew manuscripts worldwide .