All Israel

Explore the treasures of the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem

Israel National Library in Jerusalem (Photo:

If you are interested in all things Israel and looking for a vast collection of sources available in English, you’re invited to embark on this virtual journey to one of Israel’s newest and most prestigious institutions in the heart of Jerusalem – the National Library of Israel

Whether you’re a history buff, scholar or someone who loves to get lost in the pages of the past, the National Library of Israel (NLI) offers a fascinating portal into the rich tapestry of Jewish, Israeli and Middle Eastern cultures.

The library was first established in Jerusalem in 1892 and today, more than 130 years later, it remains one of Israel’s leading research centers. Adjacent to the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, in Jerusalem's government district, the NLI is not only a repository of books but a dynamic cultural and scholarly hub, serving as the collective memory of the Jewish people worldwide.

The NLI opened its new stunning facility on Oct. 29, 2023, just weeks after Palestinian terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, launching Israel’s war against Hamas forces in Gaza.

Since then, the NLI has launched the Bearing Witness project, which documents the experiences and responses of Jewish communities worldwide to the Oct. 7 massacre of Israel’s southern border communities by Hamas terrorists, as well as the subsequent war on multiple fronts – a war that continues to rage.

Visitors look at pictures of people murdered during the October 7 massacre and in the war between Israel and Hamas, at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, January 31, 2024. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

It's not so simple to visit Israel since last fall, however, NLI is available to anyone who would like to access the materials. Even before its grand opening last fall, NLI completed a years-long comprehensive digitization of books, historical newspapers, manuscripts, music, ephemera, maps and more.

Among the resources available, you will find:

  • The Jewish Collection: This collection includes some of the world’s most significant Hebrew manuscripts, ancient Jewish texts and an extensive selection of Yiddish literature. The highlights include rare medieval manuscripts and a comprehensive collection of Passover Haggadot materials for conducting a seder meal.

  • The Israel Collection: This collection features a wide variety of documents from early Zionist publications to contemporary works. It provides comprehensive coverage of Israel's social, cultural and political history.

  • The Islam and Middle East Collection: This collection boasts a wealth of Arabic manuscripts, Ottoman records, and an extensive library of Islamic texts and is crucial for anyone researching Middle Eastern history and Islamic culture.

Recognizing the importance of digital access, the library has embarked on extensive digitization projects, making its treasures available online to a global audience. Here’s what you can find:

  • Ktiv: A vast collection of digitized Hebrew manuscripts from around the world. This project allows users to explore ancient texts in high resolution, offering a window into the past.

  • Historical Jewish Press: An open-access collection of Jewish and Israeli newspapers, which provides an invaluable resource for historians, genealogists and journalists.

  • Music collections: The NLI hosts a variety of music collections, including scores, recordings, and archives of Israeli music, representing the country’s musical diversity over the decades.

Even if you’re thousands of miles away, the NLI provides various ways to engage with its collections and activities. You can register for several events happening throughout the year, including:

  • Online exhibitions: These curated displays provide insights into specific topics using items from the library’s collections. Past exhibitions have covered themes from biblical manuscripts to the history of Tel Aviv.

  • Webinars and lectures: Regularly scheduled events feature talks by experts on various aspects of Jewish, Israeli, and Middle Eastern history and culture.

  • Blogs and articles: For those looking to go deeper, the NLI’s blog offers articles written by librarians and scholars, showcasing the hidden gems and stories behind the collections.

For more information, visit the Israel National Library website and sign up for their newsletter.

As Israel begins its Memorial Day observance and Independence Day celebrations from Sunday to Tuesday evening this week, ALL ISRAEL NEWS invites its readers to explore the Israel National Library collection related to these two special occasions.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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