Primary Sources are at the heart of our educational activity. They are immediate, first-hand accounts of a topic or event, from people who had a direct connection with it, and as such they serve as a valuable source of information that gives us an authentic glimpse into the past.
Especially for educators, we have collected primary sources that can facilitate meaningful, challenging, and enjoyable learning experiences!
The Balfour Declaration was a letter sent by the British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild on November 2, 1917 that expressed the British government’s support for the Zionist enterprise. This resource pack includes a variety of primary sources about the Balfour Declaration, the people involved and public reaction.
This resource pack explores the rich and long history of the Jewish communities of the Balkans region, including Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey. Learn about these unique communities through photographs, artifacts, important figures, and more. This resource pack was made in collaboration with Centropa
Take a journey through select treasures from the NLI collections that connect to the tradition of Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Explore the customs and stories of different Jewish communities around the world and from various historical periods. This resource pack was made in collaboration with Centropa.
Israel is a democratic country, and general elections for the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, take place, according to the law, once every four years. This resource pack contains a large variety of election materials, such as posters, stickers, and leaflets, dating from the first elections in 1949 till today.
"Jews have been living in Europe for hundreds of years and this resource pack reflects their lives – a mixture of successful assimilation, adherence to tradition, internal conflicts, expulsion, and resettlement. These primary sources from the collections of the National Library of Israel include resources about Jewish communities, events, synagogues, and personalities of Europe. "
Hannah Szenes has become a symbolic figure in Israeli culture, a symbol of heroism and self-sacrifice.The National Library collection contains letters by Hannah Szenes in Hebrew and Hungarian, manuscripts of her poems, postcards, and manuscripts of her songs and music scores. With these resources, students can explore the life and writing of this extraordinary woman.
Henrietta Szold led an amazingly rich life. She established a night school, was the first woman to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and founded Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. In Israel she founded Youth Aliya, a nursing school, and several hospitals. Learn more about this remarkable woman with primary sources from the NLI collections, a movie, and various teaching resources.
The Jewish community of Hungary is the largest in East Central Europe with most living in the capital, Budapest. This resource pack explores the rich history and culture of the Jewish community of Hungary throughout the ages. This resource pack was made in collaboration with Centropa.
"The Italian Jewish community has ancient roots that can be traced back to the Roman era in the second century BCE. During the sixteenth century, the first Jewish ghetto was established in Venice and other prohibitions were issued against the Jews. The Jews slowly gained emancipation during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The 1930s brought Mussolini, fascism, and, ultimately, anti-Semitism to Italy. While many Jews were saved by local Italians and the Church, approximately 7,500 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. This resource pack tells the intriguing story of the Italian Jewish community through unique primary sources, such as manuscripts, articles, photographs, ketubot and more. "
The British army captured Jerusalem in December 1917, and even though the official League of Nations mandate wasn’t granted until June 1922, British control of Jerusalem and Palestine began immediately. This period of time from 1918 until 1948 was marked by increased Jewish immigration from Europe and rising tensions between the Jewish and Arab populations. On May 14, 1948, the British Mandate came to an end and the State of Israel was established.
For exactly 400 years, the Land of Israel was part of the Ottoman Empire. From the initial conquest in 1517 until the demise of the empire in 1917, the Turkish authorities had control over the land including Jerusalem. The following sources provide an insight into the life of the Jewish community during this Ottoman era.
"World War I was fought mostly across the continent of Europe and was one of the only occasions in history when Jewish soldiers fought against one another on opposing sides. With Jews living throughout Europe, it was only inevitable that the war would affect Jewish lives in numerous ways, not just those actually fighting but also communities devastated by the effects of war. The war also saw the end of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire in Israel. The Ottomans had ruled since the sixteenth century but was very weak and corrupt by the beginning of the twentieth century. Turkey, having sided with the Axis countries, lost the battles against the British Army led by General Allenby. This led to the beginning of British rule in Israel which lasted until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The following sources provide a glimpse into Jewish lives and communities during the harrowing years of World War I. "
After being exiled and living in the Diaspora for two millennia, Jews became an integral part of the countries in which they lived. At the same time, they attempted to preserve their cultural heritage. As a result, a number of different dialects evolved which merged Jewish and local languages. Explore these resources, all written in a variety of Jewish languages.
One of the National Library of Israel’s most impressive collections is the cartography collection with the world’s largest assortment of maps of the Holy Land and Jerusalem. This resource pack includes ancient maps created in both Europe and Israel, maps that appeared on posters and in books, scientific maps and imaginary maps, maps of modern and of biblical times. All the resources include detailed information, teaching suggestions, and discussion points.
Israel is a miracle created by amazing people; pioneers who were heroes and people just living their everyday lives. These people turned Israel the homeland of the Jewish people after thousands of years of exile from the Land of Israel. Discover these pioneers with photographs, posters and other primary sources from the collections of the National Library.
Jews have been living in Poland for over 1000 years. Between the sixteenth and eighteenth century, the Jewish community flourished and enjoyed a certain amount of autonomy in Poland. Following the Polish partition of 1795, many Jews were subject to anti-Semitism, pogroms, and poverty. Despite this persecution, Poland remained an important centre of both Jewish religious learning, and was the birthplace of many influential Jews in politics, law, science, literature, and economics. Many of the leading Zionist leaders first joined the Zionist movement in Poland. By the onset of World War II, over three million Jews were living in Poland; by the end of the war, about eighty-five percent of the community had been murdered. Learn more about the long and complex history of the Jewish community of Poland through photographs, articles and historical artifacts. This resource pack was made in collaboration with Centropa
"The Jewish community living in the territories of the Russian Empire was, at certain times, the largest population of Jews in the world. Despite suffering prolonged periods of anti-Semitic persecution, the community flourished and developed many of the important Jewish religious and cultural traditions known today. This resource pack explores the history of the Russian Jewish community through photographs, newspapers, documents and more. "
Meet Sarah Aaronsohn – a Jewish woman and a spy from Zichron Ya’akov. Sarah was one of the leaders of the NILI espionage ring that helped the British defeat the Turkish Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century. Learn about Sarah Aaronsohn and the period in which she lived with primary sources and other teaching resources.
During Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year it is customary to send friends and family greetings for a Happy New Year. In the past many people sent Shana Tova (Happy New Year) cards. Learn about Jewish life in different places and times by exploring Shana Tova cards from the National Library collections.
The Exodus (Sefer Shemot) resource pack deals with a crucial time period in the formation of the Jewish People. Beginning with the story of slavery, the narrative quickly shifts to the Ten Plagues and is then followed by the Exodus from Egypt and receiving Torah on mount Sinai. The rest of the book focuses its attention on the many legalities of Torah, including precise details about the construction of the tabernacle (mishkan).
The Shoah refers to the period from 1933-1945 when Adolf Hitler was chancellor in Germany and his Nazi party was in power. During this time the Jews in Europe suffered growing persecution which led, ultimately, to the murder of six million Jews and the eradication of thousands of Jewish communities across Europe. In this resource pack, you can use primary resources to learn more about the Shoah with the National Library of Israel.
Sir Moses Montefiore was a president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews from 1835–1874 and a member of London’s Bevis Marks Synagogue. He was a very well-known public figure and is mentioned in literature of the period such as in Charles Dicken’s diaries, George Elliot’s personal papers, and James Joyce’s Ulysses. In Israel, he is perhaps best known for building Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first Jewish neighbourhood outside the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem.
"The first mention of Jews in Britain is from 1070. In the late twelfth century, the Jews suffered from anti-Semitic restrictions, blood libels, riots, and massacres. In 1290, the Jews were expelled from Britain. An attempt to legalise Jewish presence in Britain was made in 1753 with the Jewish Naturalisation Act, and in the nineteenth century Jews received equal rights. The community prospered and comprised academics, bankers, scientists, and merchants. Due to the good conditions, the lack of violence towards Jews, and religious tolerance, in the nineteenth century Britain became a target for Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. In the twentieth century many more Jews fleeing the Nazis arrived in Britain, including the famous kindertransport, the British rescue effort of thousands of children from Nazi-occupied Europe. Learn more about the fifth largest Jewish community in the world through fascinating primary sources from the NLI’s collections. "
"Jewish communities in the United States date back to colonial times and have grown increasingly during times of mass immigration from Europe in the 19th century. Today, the United States is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, which continutes to maintain a strong bond with Israel. "
The Yom Kippur War began on October 6, 1973 when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on the most holy day of the Jewish year. Taking Israel by surprise, the Egyptian and Syrian armies hoped to win back areas they had lost to Israel in 1967. This war is widely considered Israel’s most devastating due to the number of fallen and wounded soldiers, the IDF’s unpreparedness, and mistakes in battle.
Delve into digital exhibitions, videos and more engaging content curated especially for scholars, educators, heritage professionals, and the general public.
Explore the live and recorded events, musical performances, conferences, lectures and exhibitions that bring the collections to life.