Project underway to digitize 35,000 volumes of Hebrew books from Italian Jewish history

Project moving at “rapid pace” includes a Passover haggadah dating to 1758.

By The Algemeiner

A project to digitize thousands of historical Hebrew texts in Italy is now in full swing, according to the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), with an eye to make hundreds of years of the country’s rich Jewish history available to scholars around the world.

The I-TAL-YA Books initiative aims to create an Italian-Hebrew database of nearly 40,000 volumes, and is moving at a “rapid pace” after a testing phase, according to Pagine Ebraiche, a publication run by UCEI.

“You can thus immerse yourself in pages dating from the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, leaf through the comments of the rabbis on the texts of the tradition, but also discover where and who had the opportunity to print these volumes,” the outlet said.

2,000 volumes have already been uploaded on the “Teca” web portal, with another thousand about to be added and further updates planned every two months.

On September 26, a Jewish book festival event — organized by the Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah in the town of Ferrara — will update the public on the project’s revelations so far and its future plans.

Texts already available in the database include a 1906 prayer book for the Shavuot holiday, an 1886 book of Exodus published in Livorno, and a Passover haggadah dating to 1758, from the prominent Bragadina printing house.

Partnering with the UCEI are the National Central Library of Rome and the National Library of Israel, with support from the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe.