History of the Georg Heuberger Library
The library opened along with the Jewish Museum in 1988. It started out with a collection of around 5,000 books from the bequests of historians Rudolf Heilbrunn and Bernhard Brilling as well as Rabbi Kurt Wilhelm. It has steadily grown since and today boasts a collection of some 25,000 volumes. This expansion is thanks not least to numerous gifts, such as that made by the Frankfurt historian and publicist Arno Lustiger, who donated part of his books to the museum library in 2009.
In addition to donations and estates, the library has grown with the Jewish Museum’s varied temporary exhibitions. As a storehouse of information, it has supplied our employees with specialized literature since its founding. The collection has also expanded along with the exhibitions on the fascinating history of the Rothschild family, the persecution of Jews in Frankfurt am Main and Hesse, the expressionist painter Ludwig Meidner, the Jewish kosher cuisine, and the Jewish ritual baths, known as mikveh. The library has also acquired educational literature since the creation of the Education Center.
Precious rare books, in addition to standard Judaica literature, can also be found among the library’s diverse holdings in German, English and Hebrew. The oldest book is the Sefer HaTishbi, printed in 1541. This work is a lexicon of rabbinical terms in Hebrew with commentaries in Latin.
Another special work is the Shulchan Aruch, a compilation of religious law written in Hebrew. This copy was printed in Hanau in 1627/28. The library acquired both of these rare books thanks to Bernhard Brilling’s book bequest.
Also of note is an 18-volume edition of the Babylonian Talmud, published between 1720 and 1723 by Johann Kölner in Frankfurt am Main. Kölner himself was Christian, but worked with Jewish publishers and typesetters as they were not granted their own printing privileges. Samuel Schotten, head of the Frankfurt Yeshiva, proofread this edition of the Talmud.
A rare Christian book is the Kirchliche Verfassung der heutigen Juden sonderlich derer in Deutschland, published in 1748. In it, Protestant theologian Johann Christoph Bodenschatz describes the religious and private customs of German Jews of his time. The author’s commentaries include numerous copperplate engravings.
The museum library contains publications on the subjects of religious and intellectual history since antiquity, cultural and economic history, Zionism and Israel, as well as anti-Semitism and the history of persecution. The highly diverse holdings of regional literature on Jewish communities in German-speaking countries and beyond is unique to Frankfurt’s library landscape. In addition to specialist literature—monographs, anthologies, and magazines—it includes novels by Jewish authors or on Jewish topics, cookbooks on Jewish cuisine, as well as exhibition and art catalogues. It also offers educational and museum material. The majority of volumes are in German or English. We also collect a limited amount of literature in Hebrew and Yiddish.
Since 2018, a new focus has been on picture books, books for children and young people, as well as comics, graphic novels, and games on the topics of history, religion, art, Jewish culture, and important Jewish figures. Another new feature are the library holdings of the Frank Family Center, which contain literature on the Frank family and their relatives as well as on the reception history of The Diary of Anne Frank.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Annuals
The library has the following newspapers and magazines on offer, among others:
- Aschkenas. Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kultur der Juden
- Einsicht. Bulletin des Fritz Bauer Instituts
- Frankfurter Judaistische Beiträge
- Jüdische Allgemeine (nur aktuelle Nummern zur Auslage im Lesesaal)
- Jalta. Positionen zur jüdischen Gegenwart
- Jüdische Gemeindezeitung Frankfurt
- Jüdische Geschichte & Kultur. Magazin des Dubnow-Instituts
- Münchner Beiträge für jüdische Geschichte und Kultur
- Trumah. Zeitschrift der Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg
- Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte (ZRGG)
The library has the following annuals on offer:
- Exilforschung - Ein internationales Jahrbuch
- Jahrbuch des Dubnow-Instituts (JBDI)
- Jahrbuch Selma Stern Zentrum für Jüdische Studien Berlin-Brandenburg
- Jahrbuch des Zentrums für Antisemitismusforschung
- Leo Baeck Institute Year Book
In addition, smaller periodicals, the majority of which can’t be found in any other library, are indexed and made accessible, particularly those from the Jewish Community in Frankfurt and Germany from the period after 1945. For conservation reasons, historical newspapers up to 1945 are kept in the archive.
If you’d like to support the library of the Jewish Museum—for example by donating books—please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Tel. Reading room: 069 – 212 77448