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Jewish Museum is one of 12 partners to win major European Commission grant to digitise collections

JUDAICA Europeana wins a major EC grant to bring Jewish culture to Europe’s digital library.

12 institutions in London, Frankfurt, Athens, Bologna, Budapest, Jerusalem, Paris, Rome and Warsaw join forces to offer worldwide access to the treasures of European Jewish culture.

Judaica Europeana is an innovative 3 million euro digital project that has been awarded a major grant by the European Commission to provide open access to Jewish culture collections through Europeana, Europe’s digital library. It is one of only a dozen targeted projects co-funded by the EC for Europeana.

Europeana is a flagship project of the European Commission that will provide a common point of access to millions of digital objects housed at Europe’s museums, libraries and archives. A multilingual search engine will enable the users to find, view and compare cultural and scientific resources dispersed across the continent. A prototype of Europeana is accessible at www.europeana.eu

The Consortium of Judaica Europeana partners is led by the European Association for Jewish Culture in London and the Goethe University Library, Judaica Collection in Frankfurt/Main. Project partners include the Alliance Israélite Universelle (Paris) in cooperation with the Paris Yiddish Centre-Medem Library, The British Library (London), Hungarian Jewish Archives (Budapest), Jewish Museum of Greece (Athens), Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage (MiBAC, Rome), Jewish Historical Institute (Warsaw), Jewish Museum London; Amitié (Centre for Research and Innovation, Bologna). The Central Zionist Archive (Jerusalem) and Makash (Centre for ICT applications in education, culture and science, Israel) are associate partners. More associate partners will be invited to join.

Judaica Europeana will document Jewish contribution to Europe’s cities. Jews are the oldest minority in Europe with Jewish inscriptions in Greece dating back to the 3rd Century BCE. The presence of Jews through the centuries has been inextricably bound up with the development of European cities. Occupational specialisation has led to the identification of Jews with specific streets, buildings and neighbourhoods across Europe. In the first half of the 20th Century London’s East End and the Belleville quarter of Paris were thriving Jewish areas with Jewish shops, cafés, schools, libraries and prayer houses. One-third of Warsaw’s population was Jewish in 1939. In the harbour of Thessaloniki, before World War I, economic activity stopped on the Day of Atonement. Yiddish and Judeo-Spanish press was widely available. Jewish communal life flourished through religious institutions, education, mutual support, politics, theatre, music and publishing. This pre-World War Two Jewish world was to a large extent destroyed in the Holocaust, but today there is a vibrant Jewish life in European cities and a renewed interest in Jewish culture has been taking place across Europe over the last few decades.

Abundant Jewish cultural expressions are documented through hundreds of thousands of objects dispersed in many collections: documents, books, manuscripts, periodicals, audio recordings, pictures, photographs, postcards, posters and films as well as through buildings, monuments and cemeteries all over Europe.

‘The Jewish Museum London is delighted to be a partner in Judaica Europeana. It’s an excellent opportunity to promote Jewish collections to a very wide audience’, said Rickie Burman, the museum’s Director.

‘Judaica Europeana will begin by digitising millions of pages and thousands of items selected from the collections of its partner libraries, archives and museums. The next stage will be to aggregate other digital collections on Jews in European cities — wherever they may be’, said Lena Stanley-Clamp, the project’s manager and Director of the European Association for Jewish Culture.

Judaica Europeana will reach out to diverse audiences across Europe and beyond. The target audiences are university teachers and students, schools, cultural heritage professionals, cultural tourists, family history researchers and the general public – indeed anyone interested in the history of European cities or Jewish culture.

The use the Judaica Europeana archive by universities will be stimulated by presentations and workshops. The partner institutions will involve school teachers and students and encourage them to develop projects and lessons. They will also curate virtual exhibitions showcasing Judaica material.

‘It is a great opportunity for cultural heritage institutions to promote European Jewish culture and to stimulate research’, said Dr Rachel Heuberger, the Head of the Judaica Collection of the University Library at the Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main, the largest Judaica and Hebraica collection in Germany.

More information on Judaica Europeana at can be found at www.judaica-europeana.eu

Monday 28th March, 2011

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