The Yad Ben-Zvi Library specializes in the history of Eretz Israel and Jewish communities in the East. It houses important collections of sources and studies, rare manuscripts and documents.
Online Library Catalog
About the library
The library at the Yad Ben-Zvi Institute is an integral part of the foundation's mission and operations, which among its many goals, serves to further our understanding of both Israel's past and present (with a special emphasis on Jerusalem) and our comprehension of the rich heritage of various ethnic Jewish communities in the Diaspora.
The library is a non-lending research library used by scholars, students and the general public. Our collection consists of over 100,000 books, over 3000 manuscripts and thousands of documents and other material. Our library is a member of the Union List of Israel (ULI) and the Union List of Periodicals (ULS) and the WorldCat (OCLC).
The library is open to the general public daily from Sunday to Thursday from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M – no need to make an appointment. It is however recommended that requests for manuscripts and rare books be ordered a day before. An accompanying adult supervisor is required for all young people below 11th grade who wish to use our library.
The library holds some of the heirlooms of the Jewish people and of the State of Israel and even of the world. This heritage consisting of: books, manuscripts, maps, periodicals, handwritten ketubots (Jewish wedding agreements) and other documents. These items, some of which are hundreds of years old, stretch across the history of the Jewish people till the present day. Much of the collection is unique and exists nowhere else in the world.
Among the library's possessions is the Aleppo Codex (on permanent loan to the Israel Museum) - the oldest Hebrew codex of the Bible, documents from the Cairo Geniza from the 12th-13th centuries; the only surviving letter signed by the false Messiah of the 17th century- Shabbtai Zvi, correspondence to and from Moses Montefiore, letters and rabbinical decisions from noted rabbis etc. The collection also includes handwritten rabbinical treatises, synagogue registers of Jewish communities which no longer exist, unpublished piyutim (religious poems) and prayers, beautiful illustrated books and many other priceless materials. There are also diaries and notebooks of people who were witnesses to historic events. There are manuscripts from Jewish communities such as Yemen, India, Iran, Ethiopia, Syria, Bukhara, North Africa, Georgia, and Iraq. We also have manuscripts from offshoots of the Jewish people: Samaritans, Karaites and Donmes.
The library book and periodical collection can be searched on line.
Our staff is friendly and willing to help readers find the material that they are looking for.