Transnational Access: University of Hamburg

Free Access to Physical and Virtual Sources

This university is offering  free access to physical and virtual sources under the guidance of experts in the framework of ReIReS.

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The Hamburg University, and precisely the Department of Jewish Philosophy and Religion together with the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies, offers to the starting community a well ruled system of hosting scholars and researchers as well as open access to several tools and facilities, especially in the field of Jewish Studies and ancient Jewish manuscripts. This partner offers also access to a series of archives, which are physically or virtually consultable, as well as to lot of databases. The university also grants access to the special collections of its university libraries and to the Staatsbibliothek, which includes a precious legacy of medieval manuscripts, literary remains and autographs, rare and old prints, music, and maps.


  • Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies. Jewish Skepticism

The Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies is a DFG-Kolleg-Forschungsgruppe, directed by Professor Giuseppe Veltri. It opened 2015 and is planned to run for eight years. The central aim of the MCAS is to explore and research skepticism in Judaism in its dual manifestation of a purely philosophical tradition and a more general expression of skeptical strategies, concepts, and attitudes in the cultural field. The library of Jewish skepticism is a special collection, which collects source texts, secondary literature, and journals on general and on specifically Jewish philosophy, works of and about skepticism, and secondary literature on secular and religious criticism of faith and authority in Judaism. Instead of attempting to build a comprehensive collection in rabbinical literature and Jewish Studies, it provides access to Hebrew source texts and rabbinical literature in digital format.

  • Staats- und Universität Bibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky

The State and University Library owns about 8,100 medieval and non-European manuscripts from various thematic areas. The history of the manuscript collection goes back to the beginnings of the library more than 500 years ago. Increasingly supported by foundations of Hamburg citizens and scholars, the collection is distinguished primarily by extensive material on European and Hamburg history of science and education, the history of the Reformation and the North German Enlightenment. Among them there is an impressive collection of about 550 Hebrew manuscripts (signatures Cod. hebr. and Cod. Levy, respectively), among them 235 valuable Hebraic works from the collection of the Frankfurt scholar Zacharias Konrad von Uffenbach (1683-1734) and 174 manuscripts from the collection of the Jewish lawyer Hajjim Baruk Levy, purchased in 1906.

Furthermore, in the State and University library in Hamburg  there is the library of the Jewish community (Bibliothek der Jüdischen Gemeinde), which is one of the very few libraries saved from the persecutions in Germany. The collection owns about 13,000 volumes in German, Hebrew and Yiddish. Particularly valuable: 3,000 Hebrew volumes from the 17th and 18th centuries. Through this old Hebraica collection, one can draw a short history of Hebrew printing in the Ashkenazic-Jewish area. It´s worth mentioning a very huge number of Halacha works, a large assortment of different rabbi bibles (Mikra’ot Gedolot), the usual Midrash works, many in the first scientific editions, and illustrated bilingual Bibles.

  • Center for the Study of Manuscript Culture

Based on the work of the DFG-Research Group 963, “Manuscript Cultures in Asia and Afrika” (2008-2011) the Centre for the Studies of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) is engaged in fundamental research, investigating from both a historical and comparative perspective, based on material artifacts, the empirical diversity of manuscript cultures. It will establish a new paradigm that is distinct from the research on manuscripts undertaken until now, which has been limited in its approach by region and discipline. On one hand, the cultural dependency of what has usually been considered given will particularly be brought into question, and on the other hand, universal categories and characteristics of manuscript cultures will be delineated, as one possible result of the comparative research. The great variety of fields and disciplines, as well as the large number of cultures under investigation will ensure that unreflected attitudes, such as considering historically contingent European developments to be generally legitimate, or naive dichotomies (“East-West”), considered self-evident not only in Europe, but also in Asia and Africa, are surmounted. Long-term goals include the establishment of an interdisciplinary research field dealing with general manuscript studies, and the development of sustainable and functional tools.

  • Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden

The Institute for the History of the German Jews (Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden, IGdJ) was established in 1966 as the first research institution dedicated entirely to German-Jewish history. A foundation constituted under civil law, the institute is publicly financed by the City of Hamburg. The library represents the heart of IGdJ. With over 50,000 books, it has developed into one of the most distinguished specialized historical libraries in Northern Germany. Moreover, it is regarded as the home of one of the most significant special collections covering the history and culture of the Jews in the German-speaking world since the Middle Ages. Thanks to its extensive collection of Judaica, this scientific reference and research library provides scholars access to an important collection of Hebraica and nearly 600 national and international periodicals. In addition to these collections, the library houses old prints, Hebrew works from the 16th century and rare German originals. The library also maintains approximately 120 currently circulating periodicals; an alphabetical index is available online.

Selected Bibliography

Alice Jankowski, Die Hamburger jüdische Gemeindebibliothek, in: Judaica 70 (2014) 1, pp. 2–14.

Alice Jankowski, Die Konfiszierung und Restitution der Bibliothek der jüdischen Gemeinde Hamburg, in: Regine Dehnel (ed.), Jüdischer Buchbesitz als Raubgut, Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie; Sonderh. 88, Frankfurt am Main 2006, pp. 213-225.

Susanna Küther, Hamburger Leselust: der Lesekreis des Instituts für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden (IGdJ), Hamburg 2015.

Irina Wandrey (ed.), Jewish manuscript cultures: new perspectives, Berlin 2017.

Irina Wandrey (ed.), Ausstellungskatalog “Tora – Talmud – Siddur“: anlässlich der Ausstellung “Tora – Talmud – Siddur. Hebräische Handschriften der Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg” in der Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg vom 18. September 2014 bis 26. Oktober 2014, Hamburg 2014.

On-line Sources

Bibliothek der Jüdischen Gemeinde:

Manuscript Collection:

Library of Jewish Skepticism:

Institut für die Geschichte der Deutschen Juden:

Centre for the Study of Manuscript Culture:

Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies:


Libera Pisano

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