About the Dorot Jewish Division

About the Dorot Jewish Division

The Dorot Jewish Division administers, develops and promotes one of the world’s great collections of Hebraica and Judaica. The collection contains a comprehensive and balanced chronicle of the religious and secular history of the Jewish people in over a quarter of a million books, microforms, manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, and ephemera from all over the world. Reference and research services are available in a dedicated Jewish studies reading room on the first floor of the Library’s landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

Primary source materials are especially rich in the following areas: Jews in the United States, especially in New York in the age of immigration; Yiddish theater; Jews in the land of Israel; Jews in early modern Europe, especially Jewish-Gentile relations; Christian Hebraism; antisemitism; and world Jewish newspapers and periodicals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Visits, Classes, and Tours

The Dorot Jewish Division welcomes requests for organizational tours, lectures, and class visits and similar events. Please submit your request for your organization or class by filling out our Request Form

History

The Dorot Jewish Division was established in 1897 with funding from Jacob Schiff and the collection’s foundation was provided by holdings from the Astor and Lenox libraries and expanded by the acquisition of the private libraries of Leon Mandelstamm, Meyer Lehren, and Isaac Meyer. Other holdings originated with the Aguilar Free Library, a small public library system operated by a group of philanthropic Jews in the nineteenth century that merged with NYPL The New York Public Library in 1905. 

By the early 1900s, the Dorot Jewish Division already rivaled the oldest and best Jewish libraries in Europe. Abraham S. Freidus, Judaica cataloger of the Astor Library, was appointed the Division's first chief and presided over its rapid initial growth. The Division continued to grow by purchases, gifts of books, and contributions, such as a 1983 endowment from the estate of New York City realtor Jacob Perlow to support acquisitions, conservation, and public services. In 1986, the Dorot Foundation endowed the position of the Chief of the Division, and in 1987, the  S. H. and Helen R. Scheuer Family Foundation made a substantial gift for renovation and new technology. Essential donations from the Nash Family Foundation were instrumental in expanding the Jewish Division's Special Collection.