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The John Rylands Research Institute

Jewish Collections research

More than 2,000 years of Jewish history and culture are represented in the Hebrew collections.

Pieces of significance include:

  • The famous 14th century Rylands Haggadah, which tells the story of the flight of the Children of Israel from Egypt
  • 36 of the 40 Hebrew editions of the Bible printed before 1600
  • A copy of the Psalter, the first portion of the Hebrew bible to be printed (1477)
  • A copy of the second Hebrew Bible printed in 1491 or 1492
  • The earliest known Italian illuminated Megillah, 1618, among the Scrolls of Esther
  • Manuscripts and papers of Moses Gaster (1856–1939), Chief Rabbi of the Sephardic Communities of British Jews from 1887 to 1919
  • The 12,000 fragments from the Genizah of the Synagogue of Ben Ezra in Old Cairo
  • Correspondence of, and interviews with, Zionist pioneer Chaim Weizmann

Current research projects

Research Fellow Renate Smithuis and Research Associate Stefania Silvestri, are working on a Catalogue of Codices, Scrolls, and Other Texts in Hebrew Script in The University of Manchester Library.

The Library holds one of the most important smaller collections of Hebrew manuscripts in Europe and this project will create a full, online catalogue compliant with current cataloguing and metadata standards. With more than 400 items, the collection has 50 manuscripts collected by Enriqueta Rylands (including 33 Crawford items), which are of great importance for the study of illuminated Hebrew manuscripts. Cases in point are the exquisite Catalonian Haggadah Rylands 6 and a fine collection of Megillot.