“Two decades after Israeli spies helped Syrian Jews whisk ancient Hebrew bibles from Damascus to Jerusalem, Israel’s national library asked an Israeli court on Monday to grant it custodianship over the manuscripts — a move that could spark an ownership battle over some of the Syrian Jewish community’s most important treasures. Known as the Crowns of Damascus, the nine leather-bound parchment books — some featuring microscopic calligraphy and gold-leaf illumination — were written mostly in Spain and Italy between 700 and 1,000 years ago. For hundreds of years, they were guarded inside synagogues in the Syrian capital, presented only on special occasions.” (via AP)
“These are treasures that Israel doesn’t allow anyone to check out of its national library. Kafka’s Hebrew vocabulary notebook. The first written evidence of the Yiddish language. And the Crowns of Damascus, Bibles smuggled out of Syria 20 years ago in a Mossad spy operation so classified that their very existence in Israel was kept secret for years. Many nations maintain official libraries of their countries’ most prized historical manuscripts. Israel’s is unique: It seeks manuscripts from every country in the world where Jews have ever lived.” (via AP)
“The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation of New York has awarded the Judaica Division of the Harvard College Library a grant of $1 million. The grant is for the digitization of the Division’s recently acquired photo archive of Israel Sun Ltd., a photo news agency in Israel. This archive consists of well over a million negatives covering the years 1968 to 2003. These negatives, representing photographs taken in this period by a cadre of photographers working at Israel Sun, document in great depth events, places and people in Israel.” (via Harvard Library Portal)
“The advent of the Internet has not seen off the format of the book, nor is its demise coming anytime soon. Yehuda Miklaf, a Jerusalem-based bookbinder, has a backlog of orders, and his highly regarded editions are still in demand. Despite the specialized and somewhat exclusive nature of Miklaf’s work, his burgeoning trade testifies to the fact that books remain very much in the cultural domain and will for some time to come.” (via Forward)
“Israel’s National Library says it has signed an agreement with a leading Italian collection to display online some of the world’s most important Hebrew manuscripts, making them accessible to the public for the first time. National Library Judaica curator Aviad Stollman says it will be digitizing the Palatina Library’s collection of about 1,600 documents dating to the Middle Ages. He says the collection includes rare illuminated manuscripts and one of the oldest existing copies of the Mishna, a central Jewish text.” (via The Associated Press)
Globes – “A lawsuit has been filed against Google Books with the Jerusalem District Court, with a request to recognize it as a class-action lawsuit. The petitioner, Yonatan Brauner, the author of “Things you see from there” (in Hebrew), claims that the project infringes authors’ copyright “on the greatest scale in human history”.
Brauner claims that Google continuously scans, collects, copies, and makes publicly available millions of books, thereby grossly and systematically infringing copyright without first obtaining the authors’ consent. He said it was not yet possible to estimate the damage caused to authors because he lacks precise figures about the quantity of creations affected or the extent of the copyright infringement for each work, but he provisionally estimates the damage at “tens of millions of shekels or more”. “
Ha’aretz – “It’s been over 100 years since the founding of the first Hebrew city, and now Tel Aviv has made some much-needed changes to its English-language Web site, a move many other cities have yet to undertake.”
Library Journal has a round-up.
I’m torn. I’m all for free speech, but (obviously) not hate speech. Plus, I try to be Pro-Israel. Sigh.