Ets Haim is the oldest still functioning Jewish library in the world. It was founded in 1639 and has been housed in the historical complex of the Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam since 1675. In 1889 the private library of the then librarian David Montezinos was donated to Ets Haim and the library is known since then as Ets Haim/Livraria Montezinos.
During 2010 and 2011 the Portuguese Synagogue complex, including Ets Haim, was restored. In December 2011 the library and the synagogue reopened for visitors and are now part of the Jewish Cultural Quarter together with the Jewish Historical Museum, JHM Children’s Museum and the Hollandsche Schouwburg. In recent years the Jewish Historical Museum has invested considerable time and money in the modernization of Ets Haim/Livraria Montezinos. One of the first steps was to enter into a close cooperation with the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana at the Special Collections of the Amsterdam University Library, who were successful in securing the cooperation of the National Library of Israel. Two large projects were started, involving the cataloguing of the collection of 25.000-30.000 printed books and the digitization of the 560 manuscripts.
This website now holds images and descriptions of 172 Jewish manuscripts (16,000 folios) from Ets Haim’s holdings. In the course of the next two years all remaining manuscripts will be published here. The descriptions of the manuscripts are based on earlier printed catalogues but contain a considerable amount of corrections and additions based on consultation of the original manuscripts.
This project is made possible through the generous support of the Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds, the SNS Reaal Fonds and the BankGiro Loterij.
Project management: Hetty Berg (JHM), Lonnie Stegink (JHM)
Idea and concept: Emile Schrijver (Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, University of Amsterdam) and Ardon Bar-Hama (Ra’anana; www.ardonbarhama.com)
Digitization and website: Ardon Bar-Hama
Descriptions, editing and metadata control: Ruth Peeters (EH), Heide Warncke (EH)
Technical support: Aartjan Nooter (JHM)