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This 400-Year-Old Jewish Library Survived Hitler and the Inquisition

Ets Haim Jewish Library Ansterdam (Photo: Facebook/Ets Haim Jewish Library Ansterdam)

Now the world’s oldest Jewish library will go digital, meaning everything will be available to readers online. The collection contains a gold mine of Jewish manuscripts, including writings of those fleeing the Inquisition.

In 2014, using advanced imaging equipment, the National Library of Israel has partnered with Ets Haim to digitize its entire catalog. And now the partners will make everything available online — and for free.

The Jerusalem library will include Ets Haim’s books in Ktiv, a vast international collection of digitized Hebrew manuscripts that is set to launch in August. The scans — from centuries-old stores like Ets Haim’s — are ultra high-resolution files that are resistant to digital decay. For added security, they are stored on several servers worldwide.

“Like many Holocaust survivors have in their lives, the books of Ets Haim have demonstrated a remarkable ability to cheat death,” said Aviad Stollman, head of collections at the National Library of Israel. “But we still need to do our part to ensure this exquisite Jewish library is preserved for centuries to come.”

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