About the Library

The Schocken Library is a rare book and research library serving scholars in Israel and throughout the world. The nucleus of the collection contains the private collection of  the late Zalman Schocken whose dedication to public affairs was immeasurable. Unlike other collectors, Zalman Schocken neither collected books for collection's sake alone nor for the sheer purpose of exhibiting them. He was guided by a deep sense of respect and awe towards the books in the “Wandering Jew's” travelling sack. Those books became the portable homeland of the people in exile - setting it apart, as well as uniting it.

The Schocken collection is unique among private collections, both in its immense size, as well as its importance. The original collection consists of several hundred manuscripts, a Hebrew incunabula collection (housed in The Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem), and more than sixty thousand volumes including numerous first editions, and unique research material. The Schocken Library ranks as one of finest Judaic libraries in the world.

The Schocken collection is the only collection of Jewish books which escaped the hands of the Nazi's. In 1935 the collection was smuggled out of Germany in a complex operation. During the Holocaust the library in Jerusalem served as a hideaway for Jewish writers and researchers on the run from the hands of Hitler.

When Zalman Schocken chose to build a home for the library in Jerusalem he contacted the renowned architect Eric Mendelsohn. The building was planned to include a research institute whose purpose was to publish material based on the Schocken collection. The library also includes a spacious exhibition and conference hall. .

Zalman Schocken died in 1959. In March 1961 his immense Judaica library was entrusted by the Schocken family to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The family's wish was for the preservation and continuation of the library in a manner which would serve as a basis for the Schocken Institute for Jewish Research.

The Jewish Theological Seminary of America perpetuated the Schocken legacy by re-establishing the Schocken Institute in the library's building. Research departments were established and a staff of senior researchers and assistants resumed work in the building.  Such was the unique quality of Zalman Schocken. Unlike other book collectors,  Schoken perpetuated his library and also enabled it to grow into a fine research institute.



Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday
Fridays the Library is closed


Fax: 02-5636857

Book Search (through the JTSA website)