Hero Blue

About Our Sources & Curation

Tooltip info icon

How are the sources in the Posen Library chosen and who chooses them?

The Posen Library is an anthology of Jewish texts and material culture from ancient Israel to the early twenty-first century, curated by experts in Jewish history and culture, under the guidance of an advisory board and editor in chief Deborah Dash Moore. 

When the project was initiated in the late 1990s, our founding advisory board hired editors with time-period expertise. Each editor in turn hired area experts to help them pick and review selections and comment on introductory materials. As the project evolves, we are involving new scholars to curate additions to the collection to ensure it includes a multiplicity of voices, from a variety of religious perspectives, political persuasions, and genders. Our advisory board now rotates regularly.

Do you include the entire text of each selection?

There is far too much Jewish literature, law, history, correspondence, and other written material for us to include every selected text in its entirety. In order to be able to present a greater variety of sources, longer texts are excerpted. Bibliographical information can be found on each source’s page, pointing to the full text, should you wish to read more.

Do you present the texts in their original languages?

All of our texts appear in English in order to provide access to the greatest number of people globally. For some texts, English is the original language. For many others, it is not. Some of the texts in the Library appear here in English translation for the first time, commissioned by the Posen Library and translated by leading experts. Every text not originally written in English includes the name of its translator at the end.

What if I want to find the text in its original language?

We have provided the author, title, year of creation, and location of creation whenever that information is known. As of 2024, full bibliographical information below many of the sources allows you to locate original source material, should you wish to read more of an excerpted text or find the text in its original language. We are working to add that information for all sources. 

For texts like the Bible or Talmud, the information at the top of the page gives you the text’s location (for example, Exodus 1–18 includes excerpts from chapters 1 through 18 of the biblical book of Exodus). We have used the standard critical editions for our translations unless otherwise noted.

How do I find the sources I am looking for?

Unlike the print volumes, the digital version is not bound by fixed volumes or a particular order. Instead, it offers the chance to search material dynamically, based on thousands of tags that have been added to help users find sources based on genre, subject, geography, date, and creator. Enter what you’re looking for into the general search bar at the top of each page. Once you’ve generated search results, you can refine your search by any number of interests using the pane on the left side of the screen. 

On each entry page, the source itself appears at the center of the screen. The right sidebar invites you to engage with the source, displaying background information such as the source’s creator, when known. The linked details take you to other sources in the library that share the same tagged characteristics: language, place, subject, genre, and more. 

Our site is connected to databases that account for spelling variations of transliterated letters, like khch, or k, in the names of places and people, so you should be able to find what you’re looking for regardless of how you type non-English words.

Why can’t I find a source I am looking for?

The curators and editors who put together this collection have done their best to represent Jewish life holistically and include in their work a multiplicity of voices. We could not possibly include everything because of the incredible volume of texts and art produced by Jews over the centuries. Also, sometimes people who hold the rights to texts and art do not want them available online and did not give permission to include them in our collection. 

At this time, we are also unable to include audio of music or video streaming of performing arts such as dance or theater. The permissions and site requirements are beyond our current capabilities. Perhaps one day. 

How do you define “holistic representation” in Jewish history?

The Posen Library’s mission is to broaden Jewish education: to make accessible the secular as well as sacred, include all genders, cover a broad swath of Jewish diasporas from the biblical period to the twenty-first century, incorporate work created by non-Jews for Jewish use or that have been adopted by Jews, as well as material created by converts into or out of Judaism.

We recognize that there are gaps in what the Library currently includes. We’re aware of some of these gaps particularly related to geography and gender, where scholarship is evolving to make a variety of voices more accessible globally. Going forward, the curation process will be attentive to filling these gaps, adding new sources and inviting new contributors to shape the evolving collection, to ensure that the Posen Library reflects the vision of future generations of scholars of Jewish history and culture.

We would very much appreciate your help in this endeavor. If you see something lacking, or have suggestions for improving our curated collections, please email us at info@posenlibrary.com.

Is all this content really free?

Digitally, yes! By June 2024, the website will make sources included in the print volumes available for free online, with registration. Future volumes will be available online once they are published in print. The print volumes are available for purchase through Yale University Press or wherever books are sold.

How is the Posen Library funded?

We are fully funded by the Posen Foundation, whose mission is, “to promote the idea of Judaism as Culture, an approach to Jewish history, life, and learning that emphasizes Jewish culture, philosophy, and creativity, and includes religion as one aspect of Jewish civilization.” We have an opt-in mailing list if you’d like to receive updates when we add new content or features. We do not monetize our user list however. We won’t spam you with frequent emails or ask you for money. 

Why do I have to register?

Many of our texts are under copyright and the copyright holders require registration

Check out our digital collection and explore our dynamic, expanding collection of primary sources.