The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is pleased to inaugurate the Polonsky Digitization Lab in Memory of Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum. Made possible by a generous donation from philanthropic leaders Dr. Georgette Bennett and Dr. Leonard Polonsky CBE, this state-of-the-art facility expands The JTS Library's capacity to make digital images of its rare manuscripts available online. Rabbi Tanenbaum, a graduate of JTS, was a leader in human rights, interreligious affairs, and social justice.
"The Polonsky Digitization Lab in Memory of Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum will enable The Library to digitize its world-class collections of rare and valuable manuscripts, along with other significant documents, for years to come. The lab provides the finest of conditions for this labor of love, offering a climate-controlled environment, essential equipment, and dedicated space for both photography and the processing of images," said Naomi Steinberger, director of Library Services at JTS. "This grant and the lab it has allowed us to build have radically changed The Library's capacity to provide top-quality digital images of our treasures to the world at large."
The Library has been successfully conserving and digitizing materials for many years, but this investment has substantially upgraded and enriched its resources for sustaining this endeavor. The donation also supported the digitization of a selection of manuscripts that have no surrogate copies and a group of richly decorated illuminated manuscripts. The project increased The Library's digital collection by 50,000 new images from 400 manuscripts, all which are now viewable online.
JTS Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen said, "This is a momentous occasion. Scholars from around the world have long been coming to JTS to study our unparalleled collection. Now the treasures of JTS will be available to everyone, everywhere, increasing appreciation of the Jewish heritage and of the humanities generally. In making this possible, Georgette and Leonard have given a tremendous gift to JTS, to the Jewish people, and to the world."
"Georgette and I are pleased to join Chancellor Eisen in celebrating the opening of this lab, which will make JTS's ancient treasures more easily accessible, and help preserve the past for future generations," remarked Dr. Polonsky. "It is a fitting tribute to the cherished memory of Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, who loved and was deeply influenced by JTS."
In honor of the lab's dedication, The JTS Library is currently featuring the exhibit Sifre Evronot: Calendar Calculation Manuals, 16th-18th Centuries, on view until November 30, 2013. A combination of original manuscripts and digital facsimile prints reveals intriguing details of calculation manuals that correlated the Jewish and Christian calendars in the 16th through 18th centuries, a task that was considered both sacred and practical. The exhibit was curated by Joshua Jerusalmi, with digitization photography by Dwight Primiano and assistance of Library staff. The JTS Library is located at 3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street) in New York City.
The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary has the most extensive collection of Hebraic and Judaic material in the Western Hemisphere, and the largest outside of Israel. Its distinguished holdings of more than 425,000 volumes include nearly 11,000 Hebrew manuscripts, 43,000 fragments from the Cairo Genizah, 25,000 rare books, and 400 archival collections.