Special collections at the Leopold Muller Library

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Our collections include a fine and extensive Rabbinic library, unique in Europe, with the Louis Jacobs and the Montefiore collections at its core. As part of the Coppenhagen Collection, we hold a wide-ranging collection on Dutch Jewry, the largest in Europe outside the Low Countries. Our collection of Yizkor books (memorial books for destroyed Jewish communities) is a unique resource and the largest set of its kind in Europe.

Coppenhagen Collection

The Coppenhagen Collection comprises nearly 30,000 books relating to the history of Dutch Jewry, a series of old etchings on Dutch Jewish themes, extraordinary collections of Jewish ex libris and early 20th century postcards of virtually all synagogues in the Netherlands, some 10,000 pamphlets on many Jewish communities before the Second World War, an extensive archive of newspaper articles and over 300,000 fiches recording facts and data concerning Dutch Jewry arranged by subject.

Cataloguing the Coppenhagen Collection is an ongoing priority. Books are searchable on SOLO.

Pamphlets can be searched for in this simple database.

(Please note: the Coppenhagen Collection cannot be accessed on major Jewish festival days).

Hugo Gryn Archive

The Hugo Gryn Archive comprises over 800 folders of documents and correspondence concerning the career of Rabbi Hugo Gryn. It documents Hugo Gryn’s central role in shaping post-war Anglo-Jewry. It contains significant amounts of documentation and correspondence relating to his high level of involvement with the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (RSGB), especially its Assembly of Rabbis and Beth Din, Leo Baeck College and other institutions. Almost one third of the archive is devoted to Gryn’s personal correspondence with dignitaries and congregants, colleagues and personal friends: over 15,000 pieces in total.

The Hugo Gryn Archive has been catalogued. Please email your search enquiries to muller.library@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Kressel Archive  

This archive is a unique source of information about personalities in modern Jewish history. It also contains valuable material concerning events, institutions and places in modern Israel, and the history of the Jewish press. About half of the total cuttings have been microfilmed with the aid of a grant from the British Library. The archive is organized as follows:  

  • Around 400,000 cuttings from Jewish newspapers dating from c. 1935 – 1980. Most are from Israel (including mandatory Palestine), but Jewish newspapers in various languages from Europe and America are also represented.  
  • Representative issues and jubilee numbers of many newspapers, which shed light on the history of the Jewish press. In total, the archive has informative material on about 850 newspapers.
  • Over 3000 pamphlets, filed according to the name of the person of interest (either the pamphlet’s author or subject).
  • Thousands of letters written to Getzel Kressel by writers, scholars and other leading personalities in Israel and elsewhere, and hundreds of short autobiographies of writers produced at Kressel’s request.

You can search the archive through this simple database.

Loewe Pamphlets

Acquired through the generous support of Peter and Catherine Oppenheimer and Judith and Peter Wegner, the collection comprises about 5000 items, kept in uniform boxes with contents lists on the outside. The collection grew over the lifetimes of two scholars, Herbert Loewe, Reader in Rabbinics at Cambridge, and his elder son Raphael Loewe, Professor of Hebrew at University College London. It comprises scholarly (and other) correspondence, many offprints, unpublished typescripts of translations of Hebrew poetry, etc, and ephemera of Jewish interest.

The Loewe Pamphlets have been catalogued. Please email your search enquiries to muller.library@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Louis Jacobs Collection

Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs, one of the world's most distinguished rabbinic scholars and authors, donated his library of almost 14,000 volumes to the centre. This exceptionally rich working library of is an ‘Encyclopaedia of Judaism’, which may be consulted on all major aspects of Jewish Studies including Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, Responsa, Liturgy, Hasidism, Mysticism, Kabbalah, Philosophy and Theology. The titles in this collection can be searched via SOLO.

Microform

Made possible by a most generous benefaction from the Catherine Lewis Foundation, the Muller Library owns an impressive collection of some 25,000 microfiches and 400 reels of film containing the Judaica holdings of the world's best libraries. It contains reproductions of over 4000 entire manuscripts and over 10,000 entire printed books (in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian and German), and records for over 500,000 books and manuscripts in the field of Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

 

Bodleian Library:
Geographical-Typographical Index to Moritz Steinschneider, Catalogus Librorum Hebraeorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana

Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati:
Recorded Music Catalogue
Includes also Hebrew-character title index, Hebrew-character song index and Roman-character song index.
Hebrew Title Catalogue
Bibliography of Hebrew Printing in Odessa

Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, Jerusalem:
The Collective Catalogue of Hebrew Manuscripts
Recording 262,000 items from 700 libraries and private collections in 30 countries. 12 indexes, by author/name, title, subject, language, geographic name (places of origin, places mentioned), illuminated manuscripts, library. Detailed printed guide to this collection.

 

Private Archives, comprising 6 card catalogues for: S. J. Agnon, M. Buber, Shaul Ginzburg, I. Manger, Y. Pilowsky, D. Sadan, and 146 files for some 146 personalities.
Collections, comprising 4 card catalogues, for: Schwadron autograph collection, portraits and photograph collection, air photographs of Palestine, and Arabic manuscripts in the A. S. Yahuda collection, and 20 files on a range of subjects.
Societies, comprising 6 files, including Archive of the oriental Studies, Jerusalem, and the Archive of the periodical Prozdor. With printed lists of contents.
Alphabetical and Classified Card Catalogue of Printed books
Including Hebrew characters, Arabic characters, Cyrillic characters, and Latin characters.
Judaica Collection Card Catalogue
Recording ca. 300,000 publications, comprising the largest Judaica collection in the world. With printed guide.

 

Documentation on Jewish Culture in Germany
Dokumentation zur jüdischen Kultur in Deutschland 1840-1940: Die Zeitungsausschnittsamlung Steiniger
Artists, visual and performing artists. Music, containing ca. 18,000 articles on ca.2400 Jewish composers, conductors, singers, musicians and musicologists.
Jewish Biographical Archive
Jüdisches Biographisches Archiv
Entries for ca. 150,000 individuals, excerpted from over 100 published sources. Detailed printed index.
Jewish Theological Seminary of America:
383 reels. With printed guides.
Adler Special Manuscript Collection (273 mss)
Benaim Collection of Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic Manuscripts (134 mss)
Biblical Manuscripts (1071 mss)
History of Science (213 mss)
Kabbalah and Mysticism (700 mss)
Liturgy collection (ca. 800 mss)
Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (71 mss)
Philological Manuscripts (150 mss)
Philosophy Manuscripts (300+ mss)
Poetry and Belles-Lettres (378 mss)
Polemical Manuscripts (71 mss)
Steinschneider Collection (20 reels)
Hebrew Incunabula (109 incunables or incunable fragments)
Rare Books Collection (over 200 books in Hebrew and various Jewish languages)
Harvard College Library:
Hebrew Books
Biblical Commentaries (468 titles)
Haggadot and Liturgy (85 titles)
Homiletics (712 titles)
Codes of Jewish Law (286 titles)
Kabbalah and Hassidism (163 titles)
Religious Ethics (176 titles)
Responsa (549 titles)
Rabbinic Texts and Commentaries (759 titles)
Biography (135 titles)
Belles-Lettres (465 titles)
History (94 titles)
Judeo-Arabic (275 titles)
Judeo-Persian (16 titles)
Ladino (384 titles)
Hebrew Language and Grammar (44 titles)
Philosophy and Theology (323 titles)
With printed index
Yiddish Books from the Harvard College Library
Ca. 5500 fiches, reproducing full text of nearly 5000 books.
History and Annals of Hebrew Printing in the fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (13 reels)

 

During his lifetime, Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885), the most famous Anglo-Jew of the 19th century and a patron of scholars, built up a unique and extremely valuable collection of manuscripts. Dr. Moses Gaster substantially enhanced the original collection with important manuscripts formerly owned by Leopold Zunz and Solomon Hayyim Halberstam. The collection was put on microfiche in 1994 and consists of the following parts:

  • Bible, Targum, Midrash, Commentaries, Talmud and Halakhah, and liturgy
  • Philosophy, Kabbalah, Poetry, Grammar and Lexicography, Mathematics and Astronomy etc.
  • Miscellaneous, Montefioriana and Additional Manuscripts
  • Montefiore Censuses 

For full details of the manuscripts, see Hartwig Hirschfeld, Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts of the Montefiore Library (London, 1904). For specific Montefiore-related queries, please contact the Montefiore cataloguer, Milena Zeidler.

Montefioriana

Foyle-Montefiore Library

The Foyle Foundation enabled the centre to acquire this important library. Sir Moses Montefiore founded the Judith Montefiore Theological College in 1969 ‘to promote the study and advancement of the holy Law and general Hebrew literature’, and it accumulated a valuable library. The Trustees of the Montefiore Endowment deposited a complete set of microfiches of the library’s manuscript collection at OCHJS. The centre also acquired the library’s books. The collection’s main emphasis is on the 18th and 19th century history of Jews in Europe, their fight for emancipation and integration into the wider society while retaining a Jewish identity. Over 150 titles, many of them rare 19th century pamphlets originally belonging to Zunz’s private library, relate to the legal position of Jews in various states.

 

Some 200 titles dealing with explanations of biblical law and the history of Jewish doctrine were written either by Jews to instruct Jewish communities of the time or by Christians whose interest in biblical institutions and Jewish traditions was not always for the sake of history. These often have a polemical edge, giving interesting insights into the complexity of Jewish emancipation and the struggle for Jewish identity. Publications on Jewish institutions, such as annual reports of rabbinical schools, or works concerning education in general, shed light on the organization of Jewish communities in modern Europe. Together with over fifty works by or on Moses Mendelssohn, and the oeuvre of Abraham Geiger (founder of the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums), the section on the religious and social history of Jews in modern Europe is an exceptional resource for the study of Jewish Enlightenment. There is a large section on liturgy (Spanish and German rite) in Hebrew, Yiddish and the vernacular, published in 40 locations all over Europe. A series of orders of service for special occasions such as the opening of new synagogues, thanksgivings on royal occasions or eulogies of various kinds, offer a unique source on European-Jewish history.

The library also contains a small but important collection of early works of a polemical nature, such as Martin Luther's Von den Juden und ihren Lügen (Wittenberg 1543), Raymundus Martini, Pugio fidei (Paris 1651), Johann Wagenseil's Tela ignea Satanæ (Altdorf 1681) and over 100 eighteenth- and nineteenth-century polemical treatises and pamphlets. Furthermore to be mentioned are works by famous Christian Hebraists and bibliographers such as Johannes Buxtorf (1564-1629), Johann Leusden (1624-99), John Selden (1584-1654), John Lightfoot (1602-75), Giovanni Bernardo De'Rossi (1742-1831) and Moritz Steinschneider (1816-1907). Of great importance for the comparative study of Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac and Arabic is the collection of about 200 dictionaries, grammars, concordances and language studies, showing the unmistakable influence of Sir Moses' private adviser and the first principal of the College.

Sebag-Montefiore Archive

The greater part of the archive consists of some 350 letters written to Sir Moses Montefiore between the early 1820s and his death in 1885. A range of diaries and travel reports – the earliest dated 1827 – by Sir Moses and others shed light on his involvement in international Jewish matters. Much of this material has not been published. The archive contains very little Hebraica and Judaica.

The Sebag-Montefiore Archive has been catalogued. Please email your search enquiries to muller.library@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

 

The greater part of the archive consists of some 350 letters written to Sir Moses Montefiore between the early 1820s and his death in 1885. These reflect his deep involvement in political aspects of Jewish affairs and include letters from the Foreign Office lending support in his efforts to defend Jews in peril and generally to enhance their lives. There is a range of diaries and travel reports - the earliest dated 1827 - by Sir Moses, Lady Judith and others, which equally shed light on his involvement in international Jewish matters. Of particular interest is his own report on a journey to Russia in 1872 to intercede with Tsar Alexander II on behalf of Jews.

The archive also contains extensive documentation on the ‘Damascus Affair’, in which Jews were accused in 1840 of the ritual murder of a Capuchin, Father Tomaso, and also on the ‘Mortara Case’, concerning a secretly baptized Jewish boy who was kidnapped in 1858 by pontifical gendarmes and sent to the House of the Catechumens in Rome to receive a Christian education. Sir Moses’s intervention in Damascus resulted in a Firman being issued by the Sultan of Constantinople disclaiming the ritual-murder calumny and assuring protection for the Jews. Sir Moses’s attempt to obtain an audience with the Pope and gain the release of Edgardo Mortara met with failure.

Other political documents include letters from King Louis Philippe of France and Prince Carol of Romania. Various items highlight Sir Moses’s proverbial charity, most particularly the documentation around the ‘Jerusalem Appeal’ for the poor in the Holy Land and the records concerning the founding of the Jerusalem hospital. His role in Anglo-Jewish affairs is evident from letters from David Meldola (1797-1853), Haham (chief rabbi) of the Sephardi community in London, and from Rabbi Solomon Hirschel (1762-1842), the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, who wrote to Sir Moses in his capacity as President of the London Committee of Deputies of the British Jews.

There are also letters from the office of Hirschel’s successor, Chief Rabbi Nathan Adler. The archive contains some copies of letters written by Sir Moses, but also a list of all letters posted between 1859 and 1862, indicating the wide range of people with whom he was in contact.

There are also several liturgical Orders of Services, such as on the dedication of the Ramsgate Synagogue or the one on safe return of Sir Moses from a journey abroad. Much of this material has not been published.

The archive contains very little Hebraica and Judaica.

Shandel-Lipson Archive

This collection is a unique source for biographical studies on Sir Moses Montefiore.

It was formed by the Revd Herman Shandel, Hazan of the Ramsgate Synagogue, who built up a large library and collection of Montefioriana. After his death in 1924, most of his collection passed to his son, the Revd Solomon Lipson. From him, the collection passed to his son, Eric Lipson, and other family members. As father and son added documents, letters and ephemera, the combined collection is called the Shandel-Lipson Collection.

The Shandel part of the collection contains the most valuable items, including two handwritten, unpublished diaries of Lady Judith Montefiore, letters by her and Sir Moses, and Sir Moses's passport. The Lipson items provide insight into the work of a United Synagogue minister and Chaplain to the Forces. The Trustees of the Shandel-Lipson Collection have deposited their collection on permanent loan at the Muller Library.

The Shandel-Lipson Archive has been catalogued. Please email your search enquiries to muller.library@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Western Hebrew Library

In the 1890s, Sir Samuel Montagu, Liberal MP for Whitechapel, gave his library to the New West End Synagogue. This collection forms the core of the Western Hebrew Library. The collection includes over 1300 volumes published in 70 places, dated from the 15th to 20th century. The books incorporate a wide range of topics, including biblical texts and commentaries, midrash, rabbinical literature, halakhah, minhag, responsa literature, homiletics, liturgy, philosophical works, mysticism, kabbalah, history, grammatical works, dictionaries and poetry.

Yizkor Books

The library holds copies of more than 800 memorial volumes for communities destroyed in the Holocaust. These are typically produced by single survivors or groups, describing their home city, town, or village and its institutions, history and destruction. They often contain photos and maps, as well as testimony in Yiddish or Hebrew of those who grew up and lived in each place. They were produced in small print runs for survivors and their relatives.

The purchase of many of these volumes has been made possible by the Lewis Family Interests, to which the library is particularly grateful. These Yizkor books can be searched for on SOLO.

If you need help or want to learn more about the collection in general, ask the library’s Assistant Director Milena Zeidler.