One of the most treasured collections of ancient Hebrew manuscripts and books will be digitized and available for public view online under an agreement by the state libraries of Russia and Israel announced on Tuesday.
Israel has long sought the transfer to its national library of the 14,000-item Guenzburg collection in the Russian State Library in Moscow, and the digitization compromise effectively shelves a century-old ownership dispute.
The collection includes medieval books, rare works of halachah and kaballah, siddurim and meforshim amassed by three generations of the Russian-Jewish Guenzburg family.
It was purchased by Zionist activists in 1917 for shipment to Yerushalayim that was delayed by fighting during World War One and was ultimately seized by Soviet authorities after the Russian Revolution.
Hailed by the National Library of Israel as “an historic agreement” with the Russian State Library, thousands of “new high quality images” of the ancient Hebrew texts will be integrated into the Israeli institution’s online Ktiv manuscript site.