Community and Culture

Building an Exchange of Culture and Creativity in Israel and Europe.

NLI Treasures at Limmud


At the end of 2016, the National Library of Israel participated at the annual Limmud Conference, hosted in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Representing the NLI at the conference were Karen Ettinger, Education Program Manager, and Dr. Yoel Finkelman, Curator of the Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection, who give several talks and presented treasures from the Library collections and archive. 


Karen gave several sessions, presenting a fascinating range of materials. Her first session, “Letters from Famous Jewish Figures,” presented a series of letters including,  a hysterical letter from a shop owner to Naomi Shemer and the final letter sent by Hannah Szenes, a young Jewish heroine, to her young brother. These and many other letters from famous Jewish figures are in the archive of the NLI.


Ettinger also presented on the surprising connection between the Beatles and the Yom Kippur War. In her presentation, she revealed how, one of the most famous and popular songs in Israeli history by Naomi Shemer was originally intended to be an Israeli version of one of the Beatles most well-known songs.


In another session, “Women and Feminism,” Karen introduced audience members to an Italian siddur with a feminist twist, a rare and special treasure from the NLI collection, and, for her final session, Karen presented on the Jewish struggles for freedom in the 19th and 20th centuries as experienced through historical posters and documents from the archives of the National Library.


Dr. Yoel Finkelman presented two sessions. His first session, “Why Does the Talmud Look so Odd? How Jewish Scribes and a Venetian Christian Printer Created the Page of Talmud,” explored the layout of the pages of the Talmud and the history of how this style of printing of the scholarly work came to be. Participants discovered that, among the major successes of Renaissance Venetian Jewry, we can include the style of the printed page of the Talmud as a lasting contribution.


Finkelman also presented on “The Day Ghengis Khan's Descendants Wiped out the Jewish Community on the Silk Road: An Introduction to the Afghan Geniza.”


The 2016 Limmud Conference also saw the United Kingdom launch of the NLI's new exhibition, “Jewish Languages,” which features seven panels, illustrated with beautiful samples from the NLI collections, explaining the history of Jewish Languages, including Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, Yiddish, Ladino, Modern Hebrew and other Jewish Languages.