The National Library of Israel and the Russian State Library Agree to Share Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts

An historic agreement will be signed in Jerusalem on 7 November 2017 between the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, the Russian State Library in Moscow, and the Moscow-based Peri Foundation regarding the future of the Gunzburg Collection, which includes some of the most important Hebrew manuscripts and books in the world. Through the generous support of the Peri Foundation, 2,000 manuscripts and thousands of books in the collection will be digitized, making these significant works accessible online to both institutions as well as to the general public. 

The addition of the digitized Gunzburg Collection marks a significant milestone in the renewal process of the National Library of Israel, the home of the greatest collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world, and advances its key aim to preserve the national memory of the Jewish people. The new high-quality images of the ancient Hebrew manuscripts will be integrated with the National Library of Israel's new and comprehensive digital platform: Ktiv, which will eventually include images of all known Hebrew manuscripts. 

The Russian State Library is Russia’s largest library according to the number of items - about 47 million - preserved in its collections. The Library was originally part of the Rumyantsev Museum, which opened in 1828. At present it is one of Russia’s national libraries and is located in Moscow where it holds the most comprehensive collection of books published in the Russian Federation.

The NLI is currently undergoing an extensive process of regeneration, the aim of which is to develop and adapt the institution to the twenty-first century. A key element of this process is the development of a new library building designed by world-leading architects Herzog & de Meuron, due to open in 2021.

The Peri Foundation was created in 2012 by Ziyavudin Magomedov, chairman of Summa Group. Central to the foundation’s aims is to create educational opportunities to unlock the potential of young people and to offer access to the latest technological developments.

Mr. Oren Weinberg, Director of the National Library of Israel, said: 

“We are enormously grateful to the Peri Foundation for enabling this landmark agreement with the Russian State Library, an institution that we hold in such esteem.  We are gratified that the digitized Gunzburg books and manuscripts will join other Hebrew manuscripts on Ktiv, a joint venture of the National Library of Israel and the Friedberg Jewish Manuscript Society, with the support of the Israel Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage-Land Marks Project. Ktiv is one of the largest digital collections of manuscripts in existence.”

Lord Rothschild, funder of the NLI, said: 

“For many decades now the National Library has lived in hope of having access to the great Gunzberg Collection in Russia.  Thanks to the imaginative generosity of Ziyavudin Magomedov and the Peri Foundation and with the support of the Russian State Library, this will at last happen.  This is of particular sentimental importance to me as I happen to be an Executor of the estate of Isaiah Berlin’s widow, born Aline Gunzberg, a direct descendant of the Gunzberg family.”

Vladimir Gnezdilov, Acting General Director, Russian State Library, said:
“Modern information technology has opened new and unlimited possibilities for accessing the cultural values of countries and their peoples.”

Ziyavudin Magomedov, Founder, Peri Foundation, said:
“I personally consider this a project of the utmost importance. New technology has the potential to assist in comprehending one’s identity, history and culture, change approaches to education, and give access to the exploration of historical heritage. Humanitarian collaboration is extremely important for a balanced world.”