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National Library of Israel to Showcase Some of its Treasures
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Tuesday, March 21, 2023
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Facsimiles of a collection of treasures from the National Library of Israel will be on view during a special presentation Wednesday, March 22, at the Wood River Jewish Community’s new home in Elkhorn.

The library, which is home to the cultural and intellectual treasures of the Jewish people and the land of Israel, will share a visual exhibit of highlights from the collection. Then Dr. Stefan Litt, the humanities curator of the library, and Adina Kanefield, the CEO of the NU USA, the library's US affiliate, will provide commentary about the collections.

The newest version of the Library, which will open in Fall 2023, has four main collections: Israel, Judaica, the Humanities and Islam and the Middle East.

People are welcome to peruse the exhibit at 4:30 p.m. at the new synagogue at 95 Badeyana Drive near the Harker Center. The talk will be at 5 p.m., after which people can again wander the exhibit. A nosh, or refreshments, will follow the talk.

The National Library of Israel began in 1892 when B’nai B’rith opened a library in Jerusalem with a mandate to collect “the treasures of Jewish literature.” By 1895 it housed more than 10,000 volumes, including books in the field of science and mathematics.

It was incorporated into the newly established Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus in 1925. But the Library’s collection had to be smuggled off campus during the Israel’s War of Independence when access to Mount Scopus was cut off from West Jerusalem.

A new dedicated building opened in 1960 and the Knesset established the National Library of Israel in 2007 to “collect, preserve, cultivate and endow treasures of knowledge, heritage and culture.” A new building will open in Fall 2023.

Today the library houses a quarter million books and a digital collection of scanned books, Talmud pages and more.

Among the many manuscripts preserved there are works by Sir Isaac Newton, considered to be the greatest physicist of all time. His papers cover such topics as interpretations of the Bible, theology, the history of ancient culture, the Tabernacle and Temple, calculations dealing with the end of days and even alchemy—all sides of Newton the public has never before encountered. Newton even tried to decipher writings that, in his opinion, contained secret knowledge encrypted in the Holy Scriptures.

 

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