Jewish and Hebrew Collections at the John Rylands Library and Manchester University Library
The Jewish and Hebrew Collections at the John Rylands Library and Manchester University Library are specialist collections held by Manchester University which cover a large variety of Jewish topics.
Manchester University holds a large and diverse collection of items relating to Jewish life. They include the Anglo-Israel Guardian archives and the papers of Moses Gaster, the Romanian-born Chief Rabbi of the British Sephardi Communities. Some 15,000 medieval fragments from the Cairo Genizah are available online. They include the “Butterfly” fragment in the handwriting of medieval philosopher and codifier Moses Maimonides. A contemporary artist, Jaqueline Nicholls, has created a specially commissioned artwork relating to this fragment. Many Hebrew-script manuscripts contain key texts of Jewish culture, such as the famous illuminated Rylands Haggadah, alongside everyday works in Hebrew and Aramaic, Yiddish, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Italian, Crimean (Karaite) Tatar and Judeo-Arabic. Images of many of them are available online. Many other documents of record, ephemera and rare printed books, as well as ritual objects – the circumcision wimples that were used in Western European communities can be particularly poignant – relate to Jewish life in many diverse historical settings, including modern Britain. Examples of important, everyday or quirky items are included in public and online events showcasing “50 Jewish Objects” from the Northern UK and Dublin. As part of it, contemporary artists have been commissioned to create artwork engaging with specific objects, and further artwork will be added to this Festival of Jewish Art until 2022.
The print holdings also include the “Jewish Enlightenment” Haskalah library, the library of rabbinic works collected by the Hungarian-born scholar Arthur Marmorstein and the Teltscher library works on Jewish history in German-speaking countries.
The library is open to members of the general public, but it is essential to contact the Library at least 24 hours in advance of any visit. If travelling from a distance, planning to consult rare or special material, or if there are any adjustments needed to facilitate the reader’s use of the reading room, it is advisable to contact the Library at least a week in advance of visiting. On the first visit need proof of address and photographic ID are required. University of Manchester members only require a University ID Card.
Normal reading room opening hours are Monday-Saturday, 10am – 5pm (until 7pm on Thursdays). The Reader Service is closed on public holidays.
The Library can be contacted by email at email@example.com or submit a contact form on their website.
The library has a number of catalogues and resources online, and their digital images and metadata are freely available. Their publicly accessible digitised collections are available for re-use and adaptation under a Creative Commons Licence: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
The John Rylands Library