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

“The Posen Library’s digital platform (PDL) makes accessible little-known documents of the Jewish past that add enormously to the effectiveness of the classroom. Via a user-friendly website, professors and students can analyze the intimate letters between an early modern Jewish husband and wife, probe the meanings of a blessing warning of Jewish heresy, and investigate the life of a medieval midwife through her diary, among many other gems. The Posen Library opens a world of Jewish creativity.”
—NANCY SINKOFF, Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Rutgers University


Passover Haggadah with German Translation (1842) by Charlotte von Rothschild (1807–1859)

Stela of Merneptah, 1208 BCE. Egypt and detail mentioning Israel.
Credit: Egyptian Museum, Cairo. © De Agostini Picture Library / S. Vannini / Bridgeman Images.

Reading Biblical Literature

You will find hundreds of images and excerpts from primary sources related to reading biblical literature in the Posen Digital Library (PDL). These 3–5 minute Teaching Clip videos are available to use FREE in your lectures and classes. The Clips include Professors Deborah Dash Moore and Elisheva Carlebach discussing the only Hebrew manuscript from the period 1750‒1880 known to have been illustrated by a woman (TC #6), Professors Todd Endelman and Zvi Gitelman reflecting on an image of John the Baptist which can be viewed as an attack on conventional notions of what is Jewish (TC #9), and Posen Library Senior Editor Alison Joseph identifying the earliest nonbiblical reference to the people of Israel on an Egyptian victory monument (TC #13).

The Earliest Nonbiblical Reference to Israel: Posen Library Teaching Clip #13

Jewish Women Create Art: Posen Library Teaching Clip #6

The Earliest Nonbiblical Reference to Israel: Posen Library Teaching Clip #13

The Earliest Nonbiblical Reference to Israel: Posen Library Teaching Clip #13 notes the first historical reference to the people of Israel. In a victory monument from the end of the 13th Century BCE, the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah declares that “Israel is wasted, its seed is not.” In What’s New in the Bible (the talk this clip is taken from), Posen Library’s senior editor Alison Joseph connects ancient Israelites not just to biblical references, but to a context within their historical and geographical settings. In this video clip, we learn of written and archaeological evidence of Israel’s earliest place as a recorded ethnic group.

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Suggested search terms on PDL for more related selections: Bible, extrabiblical, hieroglyphics, inscriptions, monuments, Pharaoh

Jewish Women Create Art: Posen Library Teaching Clip #6

In Jewish Women Create Art: Posen Library Teaching Clip #6, Elisheva Carlebach introduces us to Charlotte von Rothschild, the first woman known to have illuminated a Hebrew manuscript. Rothschild (1807–1859) illustrated the text of a Passover Haggadah (1842). Containing eighteen text illustrations in addition to decorated initials, the Haggadah is remarkable for its conflation of Jewish and Christian motifs, interpreted through a nineteenth-century aesthetic sensibility. Deborah Dash Moore discusses with Carlebach the latter’s decision to feature Rothschild’s art on the cover of Volume 6 of The Posen Library, which highlights the biblical figure of Miriam.

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Suggested search terms on PDL for more related selections: gender, Haggadah, holidays, manuscripts, ritual, Passover

Secular Jews Confront Religious Culture: Posen Library Teaching Clip #9

Secular Jews Confront Religious Culture: Posen Library Teaching Clip #9

Secular Jews Confront Religious Culture: Posen Library Teaching Clip #9 gives us insights into how modern Jews reacted to the backdrop of religious institutions in the interwar years (1918 to 1939), including under communism and as a rebellion against traditional Judaism. In this video clip, Todd Endelman and Zvi Gitelman show how secular Jews in America and Israel reinterpreted traditional Jewish holidays with the most militant even having antireligious celebrations, like Yom Kippur balls. They also discuss how the image of John the Baptist, reclaimed as a nonreligious Jew, as depicted by the Polish Jewish artist Henryk (Hanokh) Barcinski in 1919, can be viewed as an attack on conventional notions of what is Jewish.

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Suggested search terms on PDL for more related selections: Christianity, modernism, secular Jews

Tip for Teachers: : To avoid YouTube pre-roll ads, use the “insert” feature on Google Slides or PowerPoint when you link to the video on YouTube. Or play the Teaching Clip on our pages. FYI, here are brief videos on how to use YouTube videos in your Zoom sessionhow to insert a playable YouTube video into a Google Doc, and how to insert a playable YouTube video into PowerPoint 2020.

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