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Russian and Israeli libraries to publish ancient books and manuscripts

By November 9, 2017No Comments

Source : TNN

Russian and Israeli

The Guenzburg collection is a library of nearly 2,000 manuscripts and some 14,000 books. Some of the collection are hundreds of years old including works of Aristotle and Jewish philosopher Maimonides. There are works on the Bible, Jewish law, mathematics, philosophy, science and art.

The owner was Baron David Guenzburg, a Russian Jewish who died over a century ago. It was considered “one of the largest and most important private collections in the world”, according to Aviad Stollman, head of Israel’s National Library collections.

The collection was bought from Guenzburg’s widow by Zionist Jews in 1917. They hoped ship it to the Holy Land library that would evolve into the National Library, Stollman said, but World War I was raging and prevented that possibility.

Since then the Israeli National Library attempted to retrieve the collection, but evidence of its purchase from David Guenzburg’s widow ‘does not satisfy the Russians’.

After the Russian Revolution, the collection was expropriated and eventually taken to the Russian State Library in Moscow, where it is still held.

However now the new agreement between Israeli and Russian libraries will allow the collection to be digitised and published.

The Russian library will take high resolution digital photographs of the collection and the photos will then be handed to the Israeli library who will post the collection on their Ktiv website, the vast digitised collection of Hebrew manuscripts from libraries and collections around the world.

 The Guenzburg collection, which contains unique items, has been available to researchers at the Russian State Library, and the Israeli library was allowed to create microfilm images of it in the 1990s for its own use.
Talks at the “highest levels” in the past years, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, enabled the agreement. Dagestani-Russian business tycoon Ziyavudin Magomedov of the Summa Group has committed to support the work at the Russian State Library, expected to begin with the manuscripts, Stollman said.
With the agreement in place, whether or not the Zionists bought the collection from Guenzburg’s widow a hundred years ago “doesn’t really matter”, Stollman said. “We’re putting aside the question of ownership and looking forward,” he said ahead of the ceremony.
“Digitising won’t only help preserve the important works but enable simple and easy access,” he said. “Our goal is to make these manuscripts accessible to everyone for free, from anywhere in the world.”


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