Discover History, Art, Writings - Primary Sources from Biblical Times to the 21st Century Discover History, Art, Writings - Primary Sources from Biblical Times to the 21st Century
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Gouache from Leben? Oder Theater?: Ein Singspiel (Life or Theater? An Operetta), no. 4351 (1941–1943) by Charlotte Salomon
Artist Charlotte Salomon was born to a cultured, upper-middle-class family in Berlin. Despite antisemitic policies that restricted access to art academies and guilds, in 1935 Salomon attended art school in Berlin. The situation in Germany worsened, and in 1939 Salomon’s parents sent her to France, where she lived with her grandparents. During this time, Salomon created an extensive series of paintings and writings, titled Life or Theater? An Operetta, which chronicled the difficult history of her family. Salomon married Alexander Nagler in 1943, and later that year, she and her husband were deported to Auschwitz where both were murdered. Prior to her deportation, Salomon had given her paintings to a French doctor to safeguard throughout the war; her parents later reclaimed them. The paintings are now held at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam.
Image courtesy of Collection Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam.
© Charlotte Salomon Foundation.

Welcome to The Posen Library

The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization is a vibrant, growing collection curated by leading Jewish Studies scholars which offers unprecedented direct access to excerpts from thousands of primary sources reflecting Jewish creativity, diversity, and culture world-wide, spanning biblical times to the 21st century when complete.

Online now: selections from ca. 2000–332 BCE (Vol 1); 1750–1880 (Vol 6); 1918–1939 (Vol 8); 1939–1973 (Vol 9); and 1973–2005 (Vol 10).

Many of these original sources are works translated into English for the first time.

The sacred and secular are side by side here, for readers, researchers, educators, scholars, students, anyone interested in discovering Jewish history, biography, fiction, religious and political writing, art, cultural artifacts . . .

THE POSEN LIBRARY IS AVAILABLE IN TWO FORMATS:

In print: Ten beautifully illustrated volumes being published by Yale University Press
Online: The Posen Digital Library (PDL), an interactive database, available for free upon registration.

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The Posen Library Editor in Chief Deborah Dash Moore chose the music in this video, “I’m Done Dressing Up for You,” written and performed by Alicia Jo Rabins. The piece is about Vashti, the queen of Persia who refuses to appear at the king’s banquet in the Purim story. She is banished, making room for Esther to become queen.

PUBLISHED MARCH 2021 in print, content on The Posen Digital Library
The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization,
Volume 1: Ancient Israel, from Its Beginnings through 332 BCE

Woman Playing Frame Drum
(Iron Age II, ninth–eighth century BCE)
The drumhead of this Phoenician-style terra-cotta figurine from Shikmona (south of Haifa) is recessed, suggesting that the drum had only a single head. Figurines like this are typically found in Phoenicia and at sites influenced by Phoenician culture. Biblical references to women playing drums while singing and dancing to celebrate a victory, like Miriam and her companions after the crossing of the Sea of Reeds and the women who greeted Saul after David killed Goliath (Exodus 15:20; 1 Samuel 18:6), suggest that drum-playing women were common in Israel. The bottom of the figurine is a reconstruction.
The National Maritime Museum, Haifa. © Z. Radovan / Bible Land Pictures.
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Edited by Jeffrey H. Tigay, Emeritus A. M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania, and Adele Berlin, Emerita Robert H. Smith Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Maryland

An anthology of the culture of ancient Israel, Volume 1 covers a period — the late second millennium BCE through the fourth century BCE — that witnessed the initial development of many phenomena that would come to define Jewish culture: the Hebrew language and alphabet, Israelite/Jewish law and religion (particularly monotheism), and the books of the Hebrew Bible, what the editors describe as “Israel’s greatest and most distinctive cultural achievement.” The volume’s organization by genre encourages readers to discover the lyricism of biblical poetry, the ethical power of prophecy, and the gripping stories of innovative long prose narratives. By juxtaposing extrabiblical inscriptions and documents side by side with biblical materials, the volume illuminates the legal, religious, and cultural environment of the Israelites of that time. Drawing on archaeological remains, a rich sampling of visual and material culture complements the written texts, including images of buildings and tombs, decorative art, figurines, musical instruments, ritual objects, and everyday items such as ceramic containers, seals, and coins.

Press Release and Contact: Download Here

Image of The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, Volume 1: Ancient Israel, from Its Beginnings through 332 BCE3

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Buy Volume 1 Now!

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Image Credits

1. Gouache from Leben? Oder Theater?: Ein Singspiel (Life or Theater? An Operetta), no. 4351 (1941–1943) by Charlotte Salomon
Artist Charlotte Salomon was born to a cultured, upper-middle-class family in Berlin. Despite antisemitic policies that restricted access to art academies and guilds, in 1935 Salomon attended art school in Berlin. The situation in Germany worsened, and in 1939 Salomon’s parents sent her to France, where she lived with her grandparents. During this time, Salomon created an extensive series of paintings and writings, titled Life or Theater? An Operetta, which chronicled the difficult history of her family. Salomon married Alexander Nagler in 1943, and later that year, she and her husband were deported to Auschwitz where both were murdered. Prior to her deportation, Salomon had given her paintings to a French doctor to safeguard throughout the war; her parents later reclaimed them. The paintings are now held at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam.
Image courtesy of Collection Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam. © Charlotte Salomon Foundation.

2. Woman Playing Frame Drum Iron Age II, ninth–eighth century BCE
The drumhead of this Phoenician-style terra-cotta figurine from Shikmona (south of Haifa) is recessed, suggesting that the drum had only a single head. Figurines like this are typically found in Phoenicia and at sites influenced by Phoenician culture. Biblical references to women playing drums while singing and dancing to celebrate a victory, like Miriam and her companions after the crossing of the Sea of Reeds and the women who greeted Saul after David killed Goliath (Exodus 15:20; 1 Samuel 18:6), suggest that drum-playing women were common in Israel. The bottom of the figurine is a reconstruction.
The National Maritime Museum, Haifa. © Z. Radovan / Bible Land Pictures.

3. Self-Portrait, (ca. 1720) by Catherine da Costa (1679–1756)
Catherine da Costa was an English miniature painter. She is commonly recognized as the first known female Jewish painter. Likewise, she was the first English-born Jewish artist and the second English-born female artist in recorded history. Da Costa’s father, Dr. Fernando Mendez, who was of Portuguese origin, was physician to Charles II and named his daughter after Queen Catherine. Da Costa studied under the famous drawing master and engraver Bernard Lens III. She painted miniatures of her family and other members of the Jewish community. Among her works is a painting of her father in full eighteenth-century dress and another of her son, Abraham. Da Costa married a wealthy Sephardi merchant, Anthony Moses da Costa.
© Philip Mould Ltd, London / Bridgeman Images.