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Dr. Yoel Finkelman
Photo: Hanan Cohen

Dr. Yoel Finkelman

Dr. Yoel Finkelman is Curator of the Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection at the National Library of Israel. After receiving his PhD in Jewish Thought from Hebrew University in 2003, Yoel taught for many years in batei midrash for women in Jerusalem, as well as at Bar-Ilan University and the Givat Washington Academic College. In addition to many articles on Jewish education, sociology, and modern Jewish thought, in 2011 he published Strictly Kosher Reading: Popular Literature and the Condition of Contemporary Orthodoxy.

Personal Statement

The collections-development policy of the NLI calls on us to make the Judaica collection as complete an aggregate of Judaica printed and textual material as imaginable. We will never reach that ever-receding horizon, but I firmly believe that we must gather and preserve everything ever published in the Jewish field, from ancient learned rabbinic manuscripts to chapbooks of popular humor. The collection must be as diverse and representative as possible – covering every period of history, every ideological, religious, or secular group or subgroup. Today, we must pay particular attention to the vast amounts of digital-born material, without which we cannot understand contemporary Jewry. Anything that Jews over the course of history have done together and which they view as Jewish deserves documentation and preservation, so that laypeople and scholars now and in the future can access as much of the past as possible.

In recent years, a number of projects have kept me occupied:

The Pinkasim Collection

The National Library of Israel is aggregating digital copies of early modern European Jewish communal record books, collectively referred to as Pinkasim. These documents can be as difficult to decipher as to use in research. But for scholars who dare to take the plunge, they unearth new ways to understand Jewish communal, social, and political life.

Read more about the Pinkasim collection


Maimonides in Manuscript, Print, and the Digital Age

The National Library cooperated with the Israel Museum in 2018? to create a joint exhibit on Maimonides in manuscript, print, and the digital age.

Visit the website

Judaica Curators' Conferences

Every few years, the National Library of Israel hosts a conference of Judaica library and archive curators from around the world. The conferences work to update colleagues around the world on developments in the world of Judaica libraries and archives.The conference gathers leading professionals and serves as a forum for discussing key issues in the field and planning collaborative projects. Information and recordings of sessions are available to the public.

Read more

Selected Items

The NLI contains the world's largest collection of Passover Haggadot, including the first Haggadah ever prepared using a printing press. This Haggadah was produced in Guadalajara between 1480 and 1482, about 15 years after the first Hebrew book was ever printed, and about a decade before Jews were expelled from Spain. It is the only known copy still extant.

The NLI contains the world's largest collection of Passover Haggadot, including the first Haggadah ever prepared using a printing press. This Haggadah was produced in Guadalajara between 1480 and 1482, about 15 years after the first Hebrew book was ever printed, and about a decade before Jews were expelled from Spain. It is the only known copy still extant.

Shabbtai Zvi's apostasy in 1667 created breaches in Jewish life that have yet to fully heal. This poster, from Amsterdam during the height of his popularity, spreads to Dutch Jewry the news of his movement. The National Library of Israel acquired this broadsheet together with 80% of the famed Valmadonna collection, organized by the great Jewish book lover, Jack Lunzer.

Shabbtai Zvi's apostasy in 1667 created breaches in Jewish life that have yet to fully heal. This poster, from Amsterdam during the height of his popularity, spreads to Dutch Jewry the news of his movement. The National Library of Israel acquired this broadsheet together with 80% of the famed Valmadonna collection, organized by the great Jewish book lover, Jack Lunzer.

This late 19th century Ketubah from Harat, Afghanistan is a beautiful example of the modern trend of decorating marriage contracts, adding an important aesthetic element to a prosaic text regarding the financial arrangements between the couple and their families.

This late 19th century Ketubah from Harat, Afghanistan is a beautiful example of the modern trend of decorating marriage contracts, adding an important aesthetic element to a prosaic text regarding the financial arrangements between the couple and their families.

This sumptuous and richly decorated manuscript of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, was written around 1350 in Spain and decorated in Italy about fifty years later. One of the NLI's most beautiful manuscripts, its monumental parchment pages, dramatic decorations, and gleaming gold leaf leave me spellbound when looking at it.

This sumptuous and richly decorated manuscript of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, was written around 1350 in Spain and decorated in Italy about fifty years later. One of the NLI's most beautiful manuscripts, its monumental parchment pages, dramatic decorations, and gleaming gold leaf leave me spellbound when looking at it.