Librarian's Lobby
March 2002
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
For the past three columns I have talked about Judaica collections in American libraries.  I had wanted to continue with the descriptions of more libraries, but my father died on February 20 and the research was interrupted. I a future column I will talk about my father.

I want to make a few observations about Judaica collections in general.  But first lets describe what subjects constitute Judaica and the related terms Hebraica and Yiddica.  The definition of what materials are Judaica is not precise -- books and other library materials about Jews or Judaism.  Judaica is not limited by language, geography,  time period, or the religion of the author.  Hebraica are library materials in Hebrew and Yiddica are library materials in Yiddish.  While Hebrew and Yiddish books may be written for Jews they are not always on Jewish subjects.  There are other "Judeo" languages (i.e. languages written in Hebrew characters) that Jews have written in.  The number of items in these languages is small.  Libraries would probably group them in "Hebraica" since they do appear in general Hebrew bibliographies. Judaica collections may have books written by non-Jews on Jewish topics.

Libraries try to collect materials that serve the needs of their users.  Universities that teach a broad range of subjects reflect this in their library collections.  Even if the exact subject is not taught, the subject of the books may add to the understanding of a subject that is taught.  Some non-Jewish theological libraries collect Judaica because it may add to their understanding of their religion.  Jewish libraries may collect non-Jewish materials in Hebrew or Yiddish because they add to our understanding of the Jewish community.

Below are some of the subjects within Judaica collections. Judaica is not limited by language, place or time.

The largest libraries collect these areas comprehensively.  A research or special library could specialize in a sub-set of this list.

Bible: Texts, translations and Jewish commentaries.  Other materials from the Biblical periods such as the Apocrypha.

Talmud and Rabbinics: Talmud texts, translations and commentaries and books on related rabbinic literature from the post-Biblical era.

Jewish Philosophy and Thought: Ancient, medieval and contemporary periods and includes Jewish mysticism and ethics.

Jewish History: Ancient, medieval, modern; history of Israel and Zionism; Jewish history from all countries where Jewish resided,

Liturgy: Prayer books, texts, commentaries, translations from ancient times to the present day.

Jewish Art and Music: All the arts including fine, practical, entertainment, performing,  visual, graphic, and audio arts. Including treatises and recordings.

Jewish Literature: Including materials by and about Jews including poetry, fiction,  folklore, humor, and literary criticism.

Jewish Education: Including children's school texts and children's literature ,  materials for teachers and educators, analysis and training materials.

Hebrew and Early Semitic Linguistics

Hebrew and Yiddish Literature: Note not all materials in these languages are Jewish, they may be in Jewish collections.

Jewish Sociology and Group Studies: Includes gender studies and local studies.

Israel Studies: Modern history, contemporary society and culture, politics, archeology of Israel and Biblical lands, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Holocaust studies: Including history, memoirs, original documents,  and interpretation.

In  future columns I will describe more libraries and give more analysis of the state of Judaica collections.

Daniel D. Stuhlman is president of Stuhlman Management Consultants, Chicago, IL, a firm helping organizations turn data and information into knowledge. We are looking for new clients and opportunities. Visit the web site to learn more about knowledge management and what our firm can do for you. Previous issues of Librarian's Lobby can be found at: Reach him via e-mail at:

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