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Judaica Europeana is one of a series of initiatives supported by the European Commission to establish EUROPEANA, the European digital library. Europeana draws on rich content from libraries, archives and museums and will be launched in summer 2010. A prototype is now available at www.europeana.eu
Judaica Europeana will identify and digitize Jewish content for Europeana with a projected contribution of several million pages and thousands of other items.
The project’s main goals are:
Documentation of Jewish expression in Europe: Encourage and support content holders in identifying Jewish content in their collections that reflect the activities, creativity and self-expression of Jews in European cities; to be integrated in Europeana under the theme of Cities.
Digitisation and aggregation of this content into a coherent thematic collection to be incorporated into Europeana. Coordination of standards across institutions in order to synchronise the metadata with the interoperability requirements of Europeana.
Deployment of knowledge management tools to enable communities of practice to adapt, and apply controlled vocabularies, thesauri and ontologies for the indexing, retrieval and re-use of the aggregated content pertinent to their own areas of interest.
- Support the use of the digitised content in scholarship and academic research; university-based teaching; online teaching and learning; museum curatorship and virtual exhibitions; events and initiatives of cultural institutions in European cities; cultural tourism; visual arts, music and multimedia development; formal and informal education.
The presence of Jews in urban culture has been so high as to render them the symbolic equivalent of the city itself. Occupational specialisation has led to the identification of Jews with specific streets, neighbourhoods and other urban phenomena. London’s East End and the Belleville quarter of Paris were once thriving Jewish areas with Jewish shops, cafés, schools, libraries and prayer houses. In the early 20th Cetury in Saloniki, all economic activity stopped on the Day of Atonment. One-third of Warsaw’s population was Jewish in the 1930s. Jews were instrumental in the development of commerce. They were often owners of small stores as well as pioneers in the development of department stores. They played a major role in the Social Democratic factions at the end of the 19th century in Eastern Europe and were exponents of the main liberal political parties. Jewish workers, doctors, writers and artists made major contributions to European cities. As owners of newspapers and publishing houses they often acted as opinion formers.(1) This pre-World War II Jewish world was to a large extent destroyed in the Holocaust, but today there is a vibrant Jewish life in many European cities and a renewed interest in Jewish culture has been taking place across Europe over the last few decades.
Jewish urban expressions may be outlined graphically from a community core to individual expressions. Jewish communities managed their internal affairs through religious institutions, mutual support, education, politics, theatre, music and publishing. They provided Jewish expressions in the urban landscape, their occupations and enterprises were seen by their neighbours as characteristic of Jews. The lives and work of prominent Jewish personalities provide ample documentation on individual Jewish expression.
These abundant cultural expressions are documented through thousands of documents, photos, films, pictures, books, manuscripts, works of art, monuments and buildings, archaeological excavations and cemeteries. However there are still many obstacles to overcome to provide wide access to these collections.
Judaica Europeana’s main challenge is to facilitate open access to a critical quantity of Jewish cultural heritage in Europe at the level of individual cultural objects. Opening up access to these collections will take place in their context of creation and use, that of the wider European civilization provided by Europeana.
The Judaica Europeana consortium
The project is led by
European Association for Jewish Culture, London
Judaica Sammlung der Universitätsbibliothek
der Goethe Universität, Frankfurt/Main
Alliance Israélite Universelle, Paris
Amitié, Centre for Research and Innovation, Bologna
Ben Uri Gallery – The London Jewish Museum of Art
Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, Amsterdam
British Library, London
Center for Jewish History, New York
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem
Centre français des musiques juives, Paris
Hungarian Jewish Archives, Budapest
Institute for Jewish Policy Research, London
JDC Archives, New York
Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
Jewish Museum Berlin
Jewish Museum, Frankfurt/Main
Jewish Museum London
Jewish Museum of Greece, Athens
Leopold Zunz Zentrum, Halle-Wittenberg
Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid
National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Rome
Paris Yiddish Centre – Medem Library
Royal Library: The National Library of Denmark
and Copenhagen University Library
Salomon Ludwig Steinheim Institut, Duisburg
Sephardi Museum, Toledo
* Other qualifying Associate Partners will be invited to join
Judaica Europeana project started in January 2010.
For more information on the group of targeted projects for Europeana see group.europeana.eu
(1) See Antony Polonsky, A History of the Jews in Warsaw, Lodz, Vilna and Odessa