General Introduction

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The Encyclopaedia Judaica, first published in 1972, has a long history, antedated by a number of predecessors. The English-language Jewish Encyclopedia, the first complete work of this nature, appeared in New York at the beginning of the 20th century (its twelfth and final volume was published in 1906). This pioneering work summed up the state of Jewish scholarship and the condition of the Jewish world at the time. It was an extraordinary achievement – especially if one considers the relatively small numbers of the English-speaking and English-reading Jewish population at the time. It was able, however, to call upon the collaboration of Jewish scholars in many countries – in particular the representatives of the Wissenschaft des Judentums, the School of Scientific Jewish Scholarship, then at its height. There were aspects that it tended to overlook or underplay, such as the world of East European Jewry, Kabbalah and Ḥasidism, Yiddish language and literature, and the life and culture of the Jews in Muslim lands, but seen as a whole, it was a monumental work incorporating many entries which became classic statements on their subject. The 16-volume Russian Jewish encyclopedia Yevreyskaya Entsiklopediya, which also appeared before World War I, was well conceived and in some respects brilliantly edited. Particularly outstanding was its expertise on East European Jewish subjects. The 10-volume Hebrew Oẓar Yisrael (1924), an almost single-handed achievement by J.D. Eisenstein, was on a far smaller scale and had less rigorous standards, although in certain areas its articles presented useful material.

At the time of the revival of Jewish interest and learning in Germany after World War i, Jacob Klatzkin, Ismar Elbogen, and Nahum Goldmann planned a new encyclopedia in the German language. This was intended to incorporate the results of the intervening years of intensive scholarship and research, to reflect the intellectual attitudes which had become established during this period, and to correct certain imbalances found within the Jewish Encyclopedia. Klatzkin and Goldmann gathered a galaxy of scholars to produce a new work. This work – called Encyclopaedia Judaica – progressed notwithstanding the obstacles and difficulties of those troubled times, until the Nazis rose to power in Germany. Publication had to be suspended after Volume 10 (completing the letter L), leaving incomplete this last monument of the intellectual greatness of German Jewry. Under the same auspices, a Hebrew version – the Eschkol encyclopedia – appeared, but only two volumes were issued. Mention should also be made of the five-volume Juedisches Lexikon, edited by Georg Herlitz and Bruno Kirschner, published by the Juedischer Verlag in 1927–30. Although more modest in scope than the other works mentioned, it made a useful contribution to Jewish studies and also paid more attention than its predecessors to illustrative material.

In the five first years of World War ii the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, edited by Isaac Landman, was issued in the United States in 10 volumes. It was able to reflect the growing importance of U.S. Jewry and to take into account late developments, especially in American Jewish history and biography. It had considerable merits, but was not an ambitious work. Moreover the fact that it was published in a period of major transition in itself set a limit to its utility. It was, however, the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia which constituted the basis of the 10-volume Spanish-language Enciclopedia Judaica Castellana produced in Mexico between 1948 and 1951. The major contribution of this latter work lay in its original entries dealing with the development of Jewish life in Latin America.

After the establishment of the State of Israel, the Hebrew language Encyclopaedia Hebraica began to be published in Jerusalem by the Massada Publishing Company, directed by the Peli family. This was the first large-scale general encyclopedia in the Hebrew language – and naturally it emphasized the Jewish aspects of various subjects, some of them of high scholarly importance and in certain cases even pioneering studies in their field. But though it contains the elements of a Jewish encyclopedia, it was not – nor was it intended to be – a Jewish encyclopedia as such.

The Development of the Encyclopaedia Judaica

For many years, and especially since the cataclysmic events in Jewish history of the 1940s, the need had been felt for an entirely new Jewish encyclopedia, especially in the English language for English-speaking Jewry, who now accounted for about half of the Jews of the world. Furthermore the survivors of the editorial board of the German Encyclopaedia Judaica had always been determined that the Nazi attack on their work could not be accepted as a final defeat and that the unfinished publication must be completed. However, they too recognized that now only a relatively small proportion of the Jewish people had access to a work in German and that any new endeavor in this field must be, first and foremost, in English. Dr. Nahum Goldmann, the last active survivor of the original board of editors, had long had this objective.

Initial funding of the project was made possible through an allocation obtained by Dr. Goldmann from the German reparations fund earmarked for cultural purposes. The Rassco Company in Israel also became interested and provided some of the funds during the early stages. In the U.S., the Encyclopaedia Judaica Research Foundation was established to raise further support for the project.

During this early period, when the preliminary work was centered in the U.S., Prof. Benzion Netanyahu (father of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu), then editor of the Encyclopaedia Hebraica, served as editor in chief. The main editorial offices were established in Philadelphia in 1963.

In 1965 Prof. Netanyahu was compelled through pressure of work to retire from his post, and the editorial center was transferred to Jerusalem. This move was regarded as advisable because Jerusalem had become the unquestioned pivot of Jewish studies in the world, with the greatest concentration of scholars in the subject as well as possessing unrivaled research facilities. Moreover it was now the home of Prof. Cecil Roth, who had been appointed to succeed Prof. Netanyahu as editor in chief.

The publishing responsibility was assumed by the Israel Program for Scientific Translations (at that time an Israel government corporation, later owned by CLAL Israel Investment Company Ltd.). The Israel Program for Scientific Translations had already begun diversifying its publishing program and subsequently set up the Keter Publishing House Ltd. under whose imprint the Encyclopaedia appeared. In the U.S. the Encyclopaedia Judaica also appeared for a limited time with the imprint of Macmillan under an agreement by which the Macmillan Company would distribute the Encyclopaedia in the Western Hemisphere. The financing of the Encyclopaedia during the five years of actual work in which it was produced in Israel was made possible initially by a generous loan from the United States government out of counterpart funds available in Israel at a nominal interest. This was supplemented by a considerable investment made by the publisher to bring the project to a successful conclusion.

Work started in earnest in 1967 and a period of five years was allocated for the completion of the entire Encyclopaedia. It was decided early on that with well-planned organization and by proper exploitation of technological advances it would be possible to achieve the highly desirable goal of publishing the entire Encyclopaedia at one time. This would obviate the time gap inevitable in works that appear gradually, avoid the frustration of having the first volumes of a series but not the continuation to which references are made, and make possible the simultaneous publication of an index volume which the editors saw as basic and indispensable to the whole work.

To complete the Encyclopaedia within the given time, it was decided to adopt the principle of maximum subdivision so as to involve the greatest number of editors and contributors. The subject matter was broken down into some 20 divisions and these were again subdivided into departments. Some divisions had only two or three departments, but others included many more – 35 in the history division and more than 70 in the division dealing with the participation of Jews in world culture.

The general flow of an entry was from the contributor to the departmental and divisional editors, then to the central office for translation (where necessary), checking, styling, transliterating and bibliographical verification, approval by the relevant associate editor and by the editors in chief, and then back to the contributor for his approval of the final version (in cases where substantial editorial changes had been inserted). Finally the entry was sent to the index department and then to press.

A number of outstanding scholars served as consulting editors. They advised the Encyclopaedia staff in their fields of specialization when requested, but did not bear any editorial responsibility. Nor did any departmental, divisional, or associate editor or deputy editor in chief have any editorial responsibility for the contents of the Encyclopaedia apart from those which were his own direct responsibility. The final responsibility for all entries rested with the editors in chief.

Dr. Geoffrey Wigoder was appointed deputy editor in chief and the various divisions were grouped into sections each headed by an associate editor. The associate editors – Prof. Louis Rabinowitz, Prof. Raphael Posner, Dr. Binyamin Eliav, and Mr. Simḥa Katz – together with the editor in chief and his deputy constituted the editorial board. After the death of Prof. Roth in 1970, Dr. Wigoder was appointed editor in chief. The New York office was headed by Dr. Frederick Lachman, who coordinated the departments and divisions whose editors were in North America. Working parallel with those preparing the text was the illustrations and graphics department headed by Mr. Moshe Shalvi. This complex administration was directed by Mrs. Rachel Sabbath. The immensity of the operation can best be illustrated by the fact that apart from the 300 editors and 1,800 contributors with whom contact was maintained, the Encyclopaedia employed an internal staff of 150 – not including those who worked on the printing and binding stages. The entire publishing operation was directed by Mr. Yitzhak Rischin, managing director of the Keter Publishing House Ltd.

The Year Books and Decennial Books

It was obvious on the publication of the Encyclopaedia Judaica that to maintain its usefulness a mechanism would have to be found to ensure that it remained up to date. The method chosen was the periodic publication of Year Books. These incorporated feature articles on subjects of current interest in the Jewish world as well as extensive photo spreads on relevant topics. Many entries were updated, notably the major countries of Jewish settlement which received special consideration in each volume. Moreover new entries were devoted to personalities, organizations, Jewish studies, and other items that had come into the news or to public attention since the publication of the Encyclopaedia.

The Yearbooks continued to be published by Keter Publishing Company and the editors included Rabbi Louis I. Rabinowitz, Professor Pinchas Peli, Dr. Geoffrey Wigoder, and Ms. Fern Seckbach.

In addition, two special Decennial books covering the decades preceding 1982 and 1992 were published, incorporating and supplementing Year Book material.

The CD-ROM Edition

The CD-ROM edition, appearing in 1997, included the complete text of the original 16-volume edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, as well as the subsequent Year Books and the Decennials published in 1982 and 1992. In the limited time allotted for the Encyclopaedia Judaica CD-ROM project, there was no possibility for updating the entire work. Rather, the entire content of the Encyclopaedia Judaica was reviewed editorially and items selected for update or expanded coverage, under the supervision of Dr. Geoffrey Wigoder, as editor in chief, together with Fern Seckbach, as deputy editor in chief.

The Second Edition

With the need acutely felt to bring the Encyclopaedia into the 21st century, it was now determined to produce a thoroughly revised and updated new edition of the Encyclopaedia with the accumulated material in the CD-ROM as its starting point. Accordingly, Thomson Gale signed a licensing agreement with the Keter Publishing House and work on the second edition commenced in August 2003. The project was concluded editorially in the first months of 2006, though last-minute emendations continued to be made until the Encyclopaedia went to press in the autumn of 2006. It employed over 50 divisional editors and around 1,200 contributors from all around the world.

To prepare the second edition all entries were systematically reviewed by the divisional editors to select those requiring updating, revision, or rewriting and to propose new entries. Those selected were assigned to the appropriate scholars and writers and the process culminated in the review and editing of all entries received from the contributors. At the end of the process, about half of the original entries had been revised and about 2,650 new entries were produced. In addition, around 30,000 new bibliographical items were added. In all, 4.7 million new words were written for the second edition.

Principles of Selection

An obvious problem in the compilation of any encyclopedia is the decision as to which entries are to be included and which excluded. For the first edition, guidelines were drawn up as a result of which certain subjects were earmarked for definite inclusion while others clearly fell short. But there is always a body of "borderline" entries which potentially could fall in either category. This problem becomes particularly sensitive when dealing with biographies of contemporaries. Which scholars receive entries and which do not? Where is the line to be drawn for rabbis or businessmen or lawyers or scientists?

The Editorial Board laid down general principles, but was fully aware of the potential risk of inconsistency. The Editorial Board considered the entire entry list and paid special attention to the "borderline" entries according to the principles of selection it determined.

Various methods and criteria were established. For example, editors were circumscribed by the word allocation. For example, the editors of the section on Jews in medicine listed many hundreds of Jews who had distinguished themselves in the field. They were asked to subdivide the list into those of major importance of whose inclusion there was no doubt; those who should appear if possible; and those who should at least be mentioned and characterized in the main entry. In this way, the maximum of names appear in the Encyclopaedia. But at the same time, it was obvious that along the borderline, different selections would be made by different experts. In certain categories, it is impracticable to talk about objective standards and an element of subjectivity must enter the final selection. This inevitably provides a happy hunting ground for discussion and criticism. However, it must be noted that the editors of this and any such work have no alternative in such instances but to rely on their judgment, formed after consultation with the expert editors and advisers in each field. With contemporary scholars, the tendency was to be more generous with the older generation, whose major work had been completed, and to be more selective with younger scholars who are in the process of producing their major works and where it is therefore more difficult to reach an assessment.

In some subjects, it was possible to fix objective criteria. For example when it came to U.S. Jewish communities, it was decided to include only those numbering more than 4,500 (although here too exceptions had to be made where the community has historical or other social importance). For places in Israel, it was decided that all municipalities would have their own entry as well as kibbutzim and moshavim which were in existence at the time of the establishment of the State in 1948. For those settlements founded subsequently, only those of special interest have their own entry. With regard to the kibbutzim, the process of "privatization" which most have undergone or are undergoing is not noted in each of the many kibbutz entries but rather discussed in general terms in the Kibbutz Movement entry.

In certain biographical entries a problem was to determine who was a Jew. The first principle adopted was that anyone born a Jew qualified for inclusion, even if he or she had subsequently converted or otherwise dissociated himself from Jewish life (where these facts are known, they are stated). The second principle was that a person with one Jewish parent would qualify for inclusion (with the relevant information stated) if he or she were sufficiently distinguished. A person whose Jewish origins were more remote would only be the subject of an entry in very unusual cases. However, a more generous attitude was taken in the case of Marranos, in view of the special circumstances surrounding their history.

A number of non-Jews are also the subject of entries in the Encyclopaedia. They have been included because of their relationship to Jewish life or culture (to avoid misunderstanding, the sign ° has been placed before their name at the head of the entry). These have been selected to ensure the completeness of the Encyclopaedia, for example in matters of history (e.g., Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Balfour, Stalin), philosophy and thought (e.g., Aristotle, Avicenna, Kant), or literature (e.g., Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe). In these cases, the entry concentrates only on those elements of the subject's life and thought which are of Jewish interest, and for a biography and assessment, the interested reader should refer to a general encyclopedia.

By and large the editors of the second edition have followed the above principles in selecting new subjects for inclusion in the Encyclopaedia. At the same time, given the widespread availability of perpetual Jewish calendars on the Internet, it was decided to omit this feature from the new edition. It was thought more beneficial to devote the space to additional text and such new features as the Thematic Outline (see below). On the whole, it has been the explicit aim of the editors to offer entries that the general as well as the specialized reader will expect to find in an encyclopedia of this nature.


Notwithstanding all efforts, it has been impossible to maintain perfect consistency in the Encyclopaedia Judaica. For one thing, scholars who have written the entries have been allowed a certain latitude in incorporating their own conclusions and this leads occasionally to internal contradictions. For example there are differing views about biblical chronology. It is possible that a scholar writing on a king of ancient Israel may maintain a certain year to have been that of his death; another scholar writing about his successor may be of the view that he began to reign a few years earlier or later; while the author of the general survey of the period may give still different dates. Since the entire subject is a matter of conjecture and all scholars regard their own chronology as well founded, it is impossible to compel them to use dates with which they disagree. Wherever possible, such dates have been coordinated, but the editors are aware of such discrepancies, which must be seen against the differences of opinion among the scholars.

Similarly there can be inconsistencies regarding the transliteration of places and names. The name Leib represents the accepted English version of a Yiddish name; but many with that name who lived in German-speaking countries themselves wrote it Loeb, so that both forms are to be found in the Encyclopaedia. Accepted usage is followed in most cases, but there are many problems. In some instances, it is customary in English to anglicize names, such as those of foreign rulers: Empress Catherine – and not Yekaterina or Caterina; Frederick the Great – and not Friedrich; Victor Emmanuel – and not Vittorio Emmanuele. But usage differs in other instances: Christopher (not Cristóbal or Cristoforo) Columbus, but Johann (not John) Sebastian Bach, Leo (not Lev) Tolstoy, but Albrecht (not Albert) Duerer. Just as inconsistency occurs in general usage, so it occurs in specific Jewish contexts. It is common to adapt the better-known names into English and to write Salomon as Solomon or Josef as Joseph, but what about Salomone and Giuseppe? Biblical names have a familiar English form that has been accepted, but it would hardly be appropriate to anglicize Hebrew names in modern Israel and to refer to Moses Dayan.

Whether Slavic names should end with the form -ich, -icz, -itz, or -itch must depend on usage and not logic; and usage is sometimes confusing as, for example, when persons could have spelled their name according to German or Czech usage.

For a number of reasons (in part because of the ambiguity and interchangeability of the forms Aben and Ibn, but mainly because of the sheer weight of numbers) the Encyclopaedia has generally entered persons with quasi-surnames beginning with Ibn under the second name – but not in the case of accepted usage such as that of Abraham ibn Ezra who is always referred to as Ibn Ezra. Here too inconsistencies occur.

Problems have also arisen concerning the consistency of place names: the modern Slovakian town of Bratislava, for example, was famous in Jewish life as a center of scholarship as Pressburg, and is frequently referred to as such within a historical context. Both forms will therefore be found in the Encyclopaedia. In such instances the Index will prove an invaluable guide in coordinating the various references.

Certain concessions have led to inconsistencies with regard to Hebrew transliteration. Apart from the different systems that have been employed, common English usage has been taken into consideration in some cases. According to Encyclopaedia rules, the word for commandment should be transliterated miẓvah – but the spelling "bar mitzvah" has in fact passed into the English language as has "kibbutz" (not kibbuẓ) and matzah (or matzoh) and it is the accepted usage that has been adopted. Current Anglo-American usage refers, even in legislation, to ritually prepared food as "kosher" but in other contexts the term is transliterated according to Hebrew usage as kasher.

There are similar problems regarding the transliteration of terms in modern Hebrew which embody the "mobile sheva," which is normally not pronounced in the middle of a word in modern Hebrew. Thus the organization הִסְתַּדְּרוּת should be transliterated in accordance with the rules as Histadderut, but it is universally known as Histadrut. And then there are transliterations officially adopted by various bodies – the name of the Religious Zionist movement is Mizrachi by which it appears throughout the world, and so it appears in the Encyclopaedia even though according to the rules it should appear as Mizraḥi.

Inconsistencies also occur with regard to italicization. Foreign words are generally italicized – but not where they have become part of the English language, or are in German, French, Spanish, or Italian languages. But this too leads to anomalies. Yeshivah is now an English word and is not italicized; but the principal of a yeshivah is a rosh yeshivah, which is italicized. Ḥasidim have joyfully entered the English language, but their opponents, the Mitnaggedim, remain italicized outsiders.

Cross References and Glossary

The Encyclopaedia has been planned as a unit. To avoid unnecessary duplication, cross-references are made to complementary entries and the fullest treatment of any subject will be obtained by consulting both the cross-references given in any entry together with any other references listed under the subject in the Index. However, the Encyclopaedia has avoided a plethora of text cross-references which send the reader from volume to volume (such as Ribash see Midrash, Genesis Rabbah, Exodus Rabbah, etc.). Such information will be found by turning to the Index volume which gives all relevant references.

In the text, cross-references are indicated in two ways. The first is by the direct statement "See …" referring to entries that have directly relevant additional information. The second is by the use of an asterisk (*). The asterisk is placed before the word under which the entry appears. Thus "Abraham *ibn Ezra" indicates that further information related to that entry is to be looked for in the article on Ibn Ezra. In occasional instances the asterisk has been used to refer the reader to an entry in the Index rather than an article in the text.

Generally speaking, asterisks indicate those further entries which, it is felt, throw additional light on the subject under discussion. For example, in the statement "Benjamin Cardozo was born in New York," there is no cross-reference to New York, both because it is unnecessary and because the entry on New York contains no supplementary information on Cardozo. But the first reference to New York in the entry on "United States" will have a cross-reference because the New York entry in many ways supplements the "United States" entry. Occasional exceptions have been made where some more obscure name or phrase is mentioned, the explanation of which would unduly complicate the text. In most cases, only the first reference to a subject receives a cross-reference, but on occasions it is repeated for special reasons.

It is inevitable in a work of this nature to use a considerable number of Hebrew and technical terms which may not be familiar to the general reader. To explain these on every occasion would make the work far too cumbersome. Therefore, where necessary the cross-reference is given. However, for the convenience of the reader a glossary has been prepared of the most frequently recurring Hebrew terms and specialized names. This glossary is printed at the front of Volume 1, before the start of the entries and at the end of the text in volumes 2 through 21.


For its basic transliteration from the Hebrew, the Encyclopaedia has adopted a simplified system. It has been devised with particular regard to the usages of the English-speaking reader. However, certain exceptions have been necessary:

a) The editors of the section dealing with Hebrew and Semitic languages felt that the Encyclopaedia's simplified system could not convey all the nuances required in technical linguistic entries. All entries in this section use the transliteration adopted by the Academy of the Hebrew Language. However, to avoid inconsistencies in proper names, the basic system used in the rest of the Encyclopaedia has also been retained for names in these entries.

b) The editors of the Bible section felt the need for a few modifications in the Encyclopaedia's system in order to convey certain nuances. To preserve the maximum unity, these have generally been added in parentheses after the usual transliteration, although in certain cases where it makes no difference to the ordinary reader (use of ṭ in place of t), only one form has been given.

c) Other forms of transliteration will be found in some of the musical notations. This is in accordance with the system that has been developed so as best to print Hebrew transliteration together with music.

d) As already mentioned, in a few instances, Hebrew words have become part of the English language and their spelling standardized. In such cases, the term must be regarded by now as an English word, and the spelling in Webster's New International Dictionary (Third Edition) has been followed.

See accompanying tables regarding transliteration for Hebrew, Arabic, Yiddish, Greek, and Russian.

Furthermore, certain English usages have been taken into account inasmuch as certain words and names have received accepted English forms—for example Koran (rather than Qur'an), Saladin (rather than Salaḥ al-Din). Often, in place of the umlaut in German names an "e" has been added after the accented vowel – thus Koenigsberg, not Königsberg.


The bibliography available for an entry is integral to the treatment of the subject as a whole. On the basis of these references, the reader who wishes to pursue the subject in greater depth can turn to these basic books and articles.

For the first edition a principle of selectivity had to be adopted in view of the vast amount of material that had accumulated. It had to be be recognized that the German language, in which so much of Jewish research was written, had become inaccessible to most Jewish students. On the other hand, a considerable body of scientific publication on Jewish subjects had now become available in English while the corresponding literature in Hebrew had assumed vast proportions.

Preference was thus given to works in the English language provided they were of an adequate scientific standard. Moreover, where translations were available in English they were listed in some cases in preference to a (generally German) original. However, exceptions were made in some cases where the English translation did not represent the entire original (e.g., in some sections of Graetz's History of the Jews). Generally, only the most important and significant works are listed. Full bibliographies can usually be found in the works referred to and where there is a full bibliography on the subject in a work cited, this fact is mentioned.

Many problems were encountered in the course of compiling the bibliography of the first edition, not all of which found an ideal solution. For example, there is the problem of which edition to cite – the first or latest? A book can have its first edition in England in a different form than its first U.S. edition – and even have a different name for each; an article can appear in a periodical and be reprinted as part of a book; many volumes are now being reprinted photographically and are designated as "second editions" although – where no extra material is added – this is inaccurate.

The organization of the bibliographies (basically supplied by the authors) is also not consistent. An attempt was made to give precedence to the major works on the subject and to works in English, while generally speaking, books precede articles. However, in certain cases other arrangements (e.g., chronological) were followed. In the first edition, names of articles in periodicals were usually not listed for reasons of space, but the author and full details of the periodical served to direct the reader to the major studies in such publications. For the bibliographical updates in the second edition of the Encyclopaedia, the editors have endeavored to supply full article titles. Bibliographical items added to updated or revised first edition entries are preceded by the heading "Add. Bibliography" in bold face and appear immediately after the old bibliography where one exists, unless the latter is arranged by subtopic. Bibliographies of entries new to the second edition are simply headed "Bibliography."

The standard histories – Graetz, Dubnow, Baron – have not been cited for every article, but only in those cases where they provide material of special significance for the subject in hand. Similarly, regarding individual countries, the standard regional histories have been mentioned only when specially called for and the reader should remember that they must be consulted.

Most of the bibliographical checking for the first edition was done at the Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem. The unrivaled richness of its collection made possible a thorough investigation of most subjects dealt with and most works cited, but there were cases when certain works or editions were not available and the facts given by the contributor could not be verified.

To make the bibliographies less unwieldy a large number of standard works are quoted by abbreviation. A full list of these abbreviations will be found at the front of Volume 1 of the Encyclopaedia and the back of volumes 2 through 21. Such works can be distinguished in the bibliographies by the fact that their titles are not italicized.

Biographical Entries

The title entry for an individual is given according to the name by which he or she was most commonly known. Other names by which a person was known or versions of the name are also in the Index, allowing direct access to the entry, where the alternative names appear in parentheses following the entry title.

Wherever possible, biographical entries are given under the surname if the person had one. Where a combined rendering has become accepted in Europe (e.g., Abenatar) this is followed in the Encyclopaedia. In the case of Spanish and Portuguese names (e.g., Texeira de Mattos, Mendes da Costa), accepted usage is followed even though the first component of these names is the basic part.

The place of birth and death are not always given. The reason is that the information given customarily is in many cases conjectural, in others irrelevant. Places of birth are usually mentioned in the text when these have been found to be verifiable. Place of death is not mentioned unless there is a specific reason for giving it. Generally, it can be assumed that a subject died in the place where the person is last mentioned as having resided. To keep the entries within allotted proportions, places of education have generally been omitted as have details concerning awards such as honorary degrees, visiting professorships, prizes (except for major ones such as the Nobel Prize and the Israel Prize), promotion details (e.g., for military figures only the last rank attained is usually given), etc. Though the second edition has been more liberal in this respect, the above principles have generally been followed.

Family Entries

A single entry often covers various members of the same family. This has been especially the case when there are a number of members of the family who are of sufficient interest to warrant a description but where space would not allow individual entries. In such cases the various members are generally treated in chronological order within the entry. It often occurs that in such families there are several members mentioned in the body of the entry but one or two members are of exceptional importance, warranting a separate entry. In this case they are listed with few details in their appropriate chronological context within the family entry, together with an asterisk indicating that they are the subject of separate entries.

In certain instances, two or more members of the same family have been combined into a single entry. There are also examples of composite entries of several people with the same name as in the case, for example, of biblical persons and places where a single entry covers more than one person or place of the same name. In all such cases, each individual subject can be traced through the Index, where an individual listing will be found. If the family name is not repeated in the article following a personal name, it is understood that the name is identical with that of the title entry.

Special Terminology

In a few instances, the Encyclopaedia staff had to make decisions regarding the adoption of basic terminology. One such term is "Holocaust" referring to the fate of the Jews resulting from Nazi policies, from 1933 to 1945. Another is "Mishpat Ivri," familiarly called "Jewish Law."

Another is the use of the term Ereẓ Israel. The name Palestine was specifically created by the Romans in order to invalidate the association of the Jewish people with the country they had formerly called Judea. The name Palestine was virtually unknown even when the country was under Muslim (as well as Crusader) rule. The Encyclopaedia therefore terms the country by its proper name Ereẓ Israel (literally, the Land of Israel) using the term "Palestine" only in certain contexts (especially with regard to the later Roman period and to the period of the British Mandate when it was the official name of the country). This applies as well to such historical West Bank cities as Hebron, Jericho, and Nablus (Shechem), which are accordingly defined as cities in Ereẓ Israel.

Israel, on the other hand, generally implies in these pages the modern State of Israel. Since the origins of a great part of Israeli institutions and life go back to the 1880s, for certain purposes the term Israel is used retrospectively to this seminal period. For example, the section of the comprehensive entry Israel (by far the largest in the Encyclopaedia) headed "State of Israel" covers not only the period from 1948 but also the pre-State period. Though according to official government usage, Israel (and not Israeli) is the adjective relating to Israel and Israeli is a citizen (or permanent resident) of the State of Israel, in most cases "Israeli" has been also used as an adjective in compliance with common usage.

Israel's wars, discussed in the context of Israel's history, are given their Israeli nomenclatures. Thus, for example, Six-Day War for the war of 1967 and Yom Kippur War for the war of 1973.

The Encyclopaedia uses the term Jerusalem Talmud rather than Palestinian Talmud because although the latter is more accurate (the work was not written or compiled in Jerusalem) the former conveys the traditional Jewish title Talmud Yerushalmi.

Place Names

The basic guide for the form of place names in the first edition was the Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World (Columbia University Press, 1966) and where various alternatives are cited there, the preferred form has been adopted. For the sake of consistency the same guidelines have been used for the second edition. Place names occurring in the Bible are given according to The Holy Scriptures (according to the Masoretic text; The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1955). Other places in Israel are cited according to the Encyclopaedia's rules of transliteration. This has led to some inconsistencies in cases where ancient and modern places (not always on the same site) have identical names. Thus readers will find that some towns mentioned in the Bible will begin with Beth (e.g., Beth Shean) but others not mentioned there will begin with Bet (Bet She'arim). There will be a similar problem with "En" and "Ein."

Another problem with place names is that in many instances, places had different names at different periods. The usage of the Encyclopaedia is that where a place is still in existence, the entry appears under its current name (in a very few cases, an exception has been made where the alternative name is so strong in Jewish tradition that any variant would look bizarre). Variants are given at the beginning of the entry on the place and all these variants are cited in their appropriate places in the Index. When place names occur in the body of entries, it has often been necessary to change the usage according to the period. For example it would be absurd to talk of a person in "Wroclaw" in the first half of the 20th century – he was in Breslau; a book in the 18th century was published in Constantinople, not Istanbul.

A special problem was posed by East European names not to be found in the gazetteer. Many Jews were born or lived in small places which had a reputation in the Jewish world but are not large enough to figure in Western works of reference. Such places were identified in standard atlases and where necessary the Encyclopaedia's regular rules of transliteration for the appropriate language were followed.

A number of major geographical changes have occurred since the original edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica appeared, notably the break-up of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia and the reunification of Germany. The reader is advised to look under both the original and former names of these countries. Thus, the major history of many members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (formerly the U.S.S.R.) will be found under Russia and only developments since their independence are under their particular name. Appropriate cross-references will be found in the text.

Proper Names

Some of the problems relating to consistency in the use of proper names have already been mentioned. As noted, the tendency has been to anglicize first names where appropriate. This has been done even though in certain instances the person himself did not use the form. Thus a German Jew would have signed himself (probably in Hebrew letters) as Schlomo or Salomon but – as is customary in standard works of reference in English – these all appear as Solomon.

Every effort has been made to give the spelling of the surname as the person himself spelled it – even if this means that the more usual Berdichevski appears as Berdyczewski and Moshe Glikson appears as Gluecksohn, these being the forms they themselves used. However, problems remain. What about a person who never signed his name, as far as is known, in Latin characters? For example, if such a person's name was רבינוביץ, is it to be transliterated Rabinowitz, Rabbinowitz, Rabbinowicz, Rabbinovich, Rabinovitch, or by any other of the known transliterations, all of which are legitimate? There is no ready-made answer. In some instances, there are precedents to follow; in others, the precedent has to be invented. We are aware that consistency has not always proved possible. Sometimes an apparent inconsistency is deliberate. A man living in a German-speaking country would have written his name Hirsch. But for a man with this name in Eastern Europe there is no reason to use a German form of transliteration; in such instances the rules of Yiddish (or familiar English) transliteration have been followed and the name appears as Hirsh.


The Hebrew year begins in the fall, three months approximately (in recent centuries) before the Gregorian year. Where the Hebrew year is known (but not the exact date) the probability is that the Gregorian date corresponds to the last nine months rather than the first three months of the Hebrew year. So the Encyclopaedia has normally used, e.g., 1298 and not 1297/98 to correspond to the Hebrew year 5058, etc. Where, however, the exact Hebrew date is known, it is possible to be more precise. Where precision is significant the form 1527/28 is used; this implies that the event took place in the Hebrew year 5388 but the period of the year cannot be determined. Before the Gregorian reform of the calendar in 1587 the secular-Christian New Year was considered in most places to have been in March; the Gregorian reform established January 1st but this was adopted only gradually in Europe. The Encyclopaedia Judaica assumes, however, in most cases (in accordance with modern historical practice) the beginning of the new year in January, even before the Gregorian reform. To avoid unnecessary complications, account has not been taken of the ten-(to 12- or 13-) day discrepancy between the Gregorian and Julian calendars, which has continued in some areas until our own day. (The 1917 revolutions in Russia are mostly called the February and October Revolutions, although by Western calendars they occurred in March and November.)


The whole area of Jewish demography is highly problematical and in many cases precise numbers cannot be determined. Only in recent decades have systematic attempts been made to determine Jewish statistics. Moreover, different criteria have been adopted in different places, and results will vary with such factors as whether any sort of Jewish definition appears in an official census, whether the particular community has been subject to a scientific analysis – and how one defines a Jew! Occasional discrepancies are inevitable. Moreover, in the case of France and the former Soviet Union the problem has proven to be particularly acute. In the former case this derives from the reluctance of community leaders to publicize Jewish population figures. In the latter case, figures vary widely depending on the body producing them and the criteria used. In both cases, other than for the largest communities where current information is available, older figures are often used rather than arbitrary or unsubstantiated later figures. For U.S. communities, the 2001 figures appearing in the American Jewish Year Book have been used in the Encyclopaedia's standardized state maps, together with the 2000 U.S. Census figures for the general population, with later figures given in the text where available.


Entries have been arranged (both in the body of the Encyclopaedia and in the Index) in strict alphabetical order – disregarding spaces and hyphens. The criterion is the order of the letters up to the first punctuation sign (comma, period, etc.). This makes for easy reference as well as facilitating the work of the computer.

For example, Ben-Gurion should be sought somewhere after Benghazi and before Benjamin; El Paso will be after Elephantine but before Elul.

The following elements are not considered in alphabetization: definite and indefinite articles; personal titles (e.g., Sir or Baron), with the exception of "Saint"; material that appears in parentheses; the ordinal number of a monarch or pope. In the event of absolutely identical title entries, the following order of precedence prevails: places, people, things. Where persons have identical names, the one who lived earlier comes first. Where the same name is used as a first and family name, entries of the first name precede those of the family name.

For example in looking for an ABRAHAM one would find the order:

ABRAHAM (the patriarch)
ABRAHAM (family name)
ABRAHAM, APOCALYPSE OF (the comma after Abraham acting as a caesura)
ABRAHAM ABELE BEN ABRAHAM SOLOMON (considered as a unit in the absence of a comma)
ABRAHAM BEN ALEXANDER (note that "bar" and "ben" are considered as spelt in full)
ABRAHAM (ben Aaron) OF BAGHDAD (note that variants in parentheses are ignored for alphabetization purposes)
ABRAHAMS, SIR LIONEL (note that titles such as Sir and Lord are ignored for alphabetization purposes)


Although basing itself on standard rule of style, the Encyclopaedia has in many cases had to establish its own rules to meet its own particular requirements. Spelling was based on Webster's Third International Dictionary, except for a number of specific Jewish and Hebrew words. Italicization is used in the text for non-English words and phrases. (See also section on Consistency.)

Familiar abbreviations of rabbinical authorities (e.g., Rif for Isaac Alfasi or Rashba for Solomon ben Adret) are generally not employed in the text but are used in bibliographical references in articles on rabbinical literature and Jewish law (see section on Abbreviations). The exception here is Rashi (Rabbi Solomon Yiẓḥaki) who is so universally known by his acronym that it would be unnecessarily pedantic to insist on his full name in usual references to him. In other cases, a decision had to be made with regard to the form regularly used; thus the Encyclopaedia uses Maimonides rather than Moses ben Maimon or Maimuni and Naḥmanides rather than Moses ben Naḥman. Here again the reader should consult the aliases appearing in the alphabetized Index.


Supplementing the text are over 600 tables, maps, charts, and archaeological plans including a full list of Jewish settlements in Israel and detailed chronologies of Jewish history and of the Holocaust period, as well as an eight-page full-color insert in each volume illustrating all facets of Jewish life in hundreds of photographs. A special section of Holocaust photographs follows the main Holocaust entry.

Signatures and Contributors

Authors' names generally appear at the end of each entry. Where different contributors have written sections of an entry, their names are found at the end of the section they have written. When two (or more) contributions have been merged into a single article a joint signature appears at the end of the entry. Contributions to the second edition are indicated by the words (2nd ed.) after the contributor's name. However, in cases where updates or revisions to a first edition entry are minor, or only new bibliography has been added (see Bibliographies above), the second edition contributor has generally not been cited, lest the mistaken impression be created that the entry was a joint effort. Furthermore, with the removal of the ubiquitous "ed." (for "Editor") signature from first edition entries produced by the EJ editorial staff, such entries are now unsigned, unless the second edition update or revision was significant enough to warrant its attribution to the second edition contributor alone.

Information on the authors (as of the date of writing the entry) can be found in the List of Contributors along with a list of all entries partially or entirely written by each author.

For the first edition the Encyclopaedia Judaica received permission to utilize entries appearing in two other encyclopedias in other languages – the German Encyclopaedia Judaica and the Hebrew Encyclopaedia Hebraica. Where contributors of such entries were living, the English version was sent to them for their approval and where received, the author's initial is given. In a few cases, for one reason or another, the author was not available or not prepared to check the English version; in such cases the entries are merely signed [Encyclopedia Judaica (Germany)] or [Encyclopaedia Hebraica] to indicate that the source is to be found in these works. For the second edition, permission was received to use material from two other sources: Yad Vashem's Pinkasei Kehillot and its English abridgment (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities Before and During the Holocaust) and The Shorter Jewish Encyclopedia in Russian (Kratkoy Evreyskoy Entsiklopedii). Material from these sources was incorporated into entries written and generally signed by second edition contributors.


One of the highlights of the Encyclopaedia is its comprehensive index, originally edited by Prof. Raphael Posner for the first edition. This provides the key which unlocks the Encyclopaedia so that each detail becomes readily available for consultation. Ordinarily, an encyclopedia can be consulted only through the alphabetical list of entries. In the case of the Encyclopaedia Judaica this would give the reader some 22,000 subjects. With the aid of the Index the option is expanded more than eightfold, and the reader can at once see where information on topics that have not received independent entries but have been treated under other headings can be found. In addition a subject can be followed through all aspects of its treatment in the Encyclopaedia. For example, if the reader is interested in Maimonides, he or she will discover not only that there is a major entry on Maimonides but that there are further extensive treatments of Maimonides' thought and work in dozens of other entries – such as the entry Mishpat Ivri (Jewish Law), Philosophy, Medicine, Aristotle, Attributes, etc.

The Index is an indispensable tool for the use of the Encyclopaedia and the editors recommend that the reader always start by turning to it. Only by consulting the Index will he or she grasp the full treatment of any subject. (Where a person can be referred to under various names or pseudonyms, the Index will guide the reader to the relevant entry.) In planning the Encyclopaedia, the editors endeavored to maintain an overview of the complete work and to avoid overlapping, as far as possible. Without the Index, the reader would not be aware of the carefully planned structure of each subject and might conclude that certain important facets had been omitted or overlooked or that in certain cases treatment was inadequate. But by referring to the Index the user will immediately find out under what heading each subject is treated and where the supplementary aspects are dealt with.

It should be noted that the captions to the illustrations have also been indexed. Thus, under Israel, the reader will find page references to all maps and tables in the entry. In this way, the reader has easy access to all the visual material in the Encyclopaedia.

For full details on the Index and its use, the reader is referred to the Introduction to the Index in the Index volume.

Thematic Outline

The Thematic Outline, at the front of the Index volume, is an entirely new feature listing all entries in the Encyclopaedia under their appropriate subject headings, more or less corresponding to the Encyclopaedia's editorial divisions. Thus, for example, a typical heading of this kind would be "Canada," broken down into Main Entries, General Entries, Community Entries, and Biographical Entries. For the larger divisions (U.S., Israel, Germany, etc.) biographical entries are further subdivided into Public and Economic Life, Academic Life, Popular Culture, Art, Science, etc. Many entries will appear under more than one heading. Scientists, for example, will appear under both the country they are identified with (or more than one country in certain cases) and the Science heading. As definitions are sometimes not clearcut, the existence of an entry can always be checked against the Index.

The aim of the Thematic Outline is to provide at a glance a picture of what is contained in the Encyclopaedia as well as to serve as a teaching and research tool showing all the entries available on a given subject.


The preparation of the second edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica was a labor of devotion and dedication on the part of those responsible. It is the product of the diligent work of many hundreds of participants making very special efforts to ensure its successful conclusion. In this, they have been motivated by an awareness of the historic and cultural value of this work and the significant role it can play in Jewish education and culture, in the spread of Jewish knowledge – which is such an urgent priority in the Jewish and non-Jewish world today – and in the closer linking of Israel with Jews as well as non-Jews the world over. The editors are aware that for objective reasons, they have not always attained the desired perfection and that, as is inevitable in any work of comparable size and scope, errors have crept in. But they feel that the final product, seen in its entirety, is indeed a historical contribution to Jewish culture with which they feel privileged to have been associated.

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