The Jewish Museum Library is a library specializing in the history, religion, and culture of Judaism. It is a reference library welcoming all interested visitors during the museum’s opening hours. The library is currently closed due to renovation.
The Jewish Museum Library houses publications on religious history and the history of ideas since ancient times, cultural and economic history, anti-Semitism and Zionism, as well as reference books on the state of Israel. The library has multifaceted regional literature that also makes it special among Frankfurt’s libraries. As a museum library, it also contains numerous exhibition and art catalogues. In addition to books and historical journals, audio-visual media are also available, particularly on topics relating to the museum’s individual exhibition areas. Information on the library collection items is also accessible via the online catalogue.
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History of the Library
The library opened along with the Jewish Museum in 1988. It started out with a collection of around 5,000 books from the bequests of historians Rudolf Heilbrunn and Bernhard Brilling as well as Rabbi Kurt Wilhelm. It has steadily grown since and today boasts a collection of some 25,000 volumes. This expansion is thanks not least to numerous gifts, such as that made by the Frankfurt historian and publicist Arno Lustiger, who donated part of his books to the museum library in 2009.
In addition to donations and estates, the library has grown with the Jewish Museum’s varied temporary exhibitions. As a storehouse of information, it has supplied our employees with specialized literature since its founding. The collection has also expanded along with the exhibitions on the fascinating history of the Rothschild family, the persecution of Jews in Frankfurt am Main and Hesse, the expressionist painter Ludwig Meidner, the Jewish kosher cuisine, and the Jewish ritual baths, known as mikveh. The library has also acquired educational literature since the creation of the Education Center.
Precious rare books, in addition to standard Judaica literature, can also be found among the library’s diverse holdings in German, English and Hebrew. The oldest book is the Sefer HaTishbi, printed in 1541. This work is a lexicon of rabbinical terms in Hebrew with commentaries in Latin.
Another special work is the Shulchan Aruch, a compilation of religious law written in Hebrew. This copy was printed in Hanau in 1627/28. The library acquired both of these rare books thanks to Bernhard Brilling’s book bequest.
Also of note is an 18-volume edition of the Babylonian Talmud, published between 1720 and 1723 by Johann Kölner in Frankfurt am Main. Kölner himself was Christian, but worked with Jewish publishers and typesetters as they were not granted their own printing privileges. Samuel Schotten, head of the Frankfurt Yeshiva, proofread this edition of the Talmud.
A rare Christian book is the Kirchliche Verfassung der heutigen Juden sonderlich derer in Deutschland, published in 1748. In it, Protestant theologian Johann Christoph Bodenschatz describes the religious and private customs of German Jews of his time. The author’s commentaries include numerous copperplate engravings.
A Look Ahead
In the future, the library will be housed in a new spacious area of the Jewish Museum’s extension building. It will offer quiet working spaces for researchers and a comfortable reading corner for museum guests and all other visitors especially interested in the library. Children and young people will also be welcome and offered a variety of picture books, novels, comics, and graphic novels on the theme of Judaism –all in a reading environment that is both exciting and relaxing.
Please contact us if you would like to support the Jewish Museum Library, for instance in the form of book donations.
Library in the Jewish Museum
We're closed today
Due to renovation, the library can only be visited with advance reservation.
The entrance to the library is free.
The library is fully accessible.
Library in the Jewish Museum
60329 Frankfurt am Main
Tel: + 49 (0) 69 212 70790