About the Collection
The Gershom Scholem collection is based on the large personal library of Gershom Scholem, the renowned researcher of the Kabbalah. After Scholem’s death, the collection was transferred to the Jewish National and University Library, now known as the National Library of Israel. The collection is housed in two dedicated reading rooms. The Gershom Scholem Library was managed from its opening in 1987 through January 2011 by Dr. Esther Liebes. In July 2011, Dr. Zvi Leshem was appointed director of the library.
The collection includes some 35,000 items relating to the field of Kabbalah. The collection comprises three distinct parts. The largest part, and the core of the collection, is the personal library of the late Professor Gershom Scholem, including most of the books, articles and facsimile manuscripts that were in his possession (his correspondence was forwarded to the Scholem Archive in the Library).
A second, and smaller, part consists of rare books of Professor Rivka Schatz-Uffenheimer and Professor Yeshayahu Tishbi.
The third part, which is growing steadily, consists of original literature and research works in the fields of Kabbalah and Hasidism. Existing and new publications are acquired by the Library through the Gershom Scholem Collection. The collection also includes computerized databases, such as Lev Ha’Otzar (D.B.S.), the Responsa project of Bar Ilan University, and databases specializing in Kabbalistic literature, such as Chabad literature, Breslav, the writings of Rabbi Kook, and Otzar HaChochma. In addition to an old-fashioned alphabetical card index and an updated computerized catalogue, a two-volume catalogue was printed in 5759 (1999) under the title the Gershom Scholem Library of Mysticism, edited by Yosef Dan and Esther Liebes. The catalogue, which is arranged in chronological order and includes a thematic section, includes all the printed items collected by Scholem during his lifetime, as well as all the items added to the collection after his death. The catalogue follows the classification system Scholem himself used in his home library.
As noted, the heart of the collection includes books (including numerous rare items), articles and facsimile manuscripts owned by Professor Gershom Scholem. Scholem edited many of the books, and added countless informative and critical comments in the margins and on the opening pages. These comments include many aspects that have not yet been published, adding a further dimension to the books and illuminating unknown aspects of the study of the Kabbalah.
Read more about the history of the collection