Site Puts Ancient Hebrew Texts Online - InformationWeek
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4/24/2008
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Site Puts Ancient Hebrew Texts Online

HebrewBooks.org added two ancient book collections to its searchable archive of 15,000 Hebrew books and works of Judaica online.

More than 1,000 ancient Hebrew texts have been added to a free Web site, Hebrewbooks.org.

The non-profit Society for the Preservation of Hebrew Books announced that it added two ancient book collections to the Friedberg-Ryzman collection of more than 15,000 Hebrew books and works of Judaica online. Technology companies Ligature and dtSearch helped to make the texts fully searchable in Hebrew.

One collection, loaned by the Chabad-Lubavitch Library in Brooklyn, N.Y., contains more than 1,000 Passover Haggadahs (tales of Jewish liberation from slavery). They come from all over the globe and some are from the Middle Ages.

The Society scanned the collection and applied Ligature optical character recognition to preserve the Haggadahs as PDF images overlaying hidden text. dtSearch and a Hebrew virtual keyboard allow visitors to find and view the material in Hebrew.

The second collection includes 400 original works related to the scholar and physician Maimonides, also known as Rambam. They date back to the 12th century BCE and can be searched in the original text for the first time.

"We are very pleased to announce the addition of the Haggadahs from the Chabad-Lubavitch Library," says Chaim Rosenberg, founder of the Society for the Preservation of Hebrew Books. He called Maimonides/Rambam "one of the preeminent, and certainly most prolific, Jewish scholars of all time."

"This collection of his works is unique to the Society, and we are proud to make it available for worldwide scholarly access," he said in a news announcement.

The Friedberg-Ryzman collection includes more than 15,000 volumes of rare and out-of-print works and texts in danger of being lost, destroyed, or simply disintegrated from age.

Ligature's Hebrew OCR technologies digitize the scanned texts into searchable PDF format. Ligature's OCR engine also supports English and a wide variety of other European languages.

The dtSearch Engine allows visitors to search within document collections with more than one language by searching more than a terabyte of data in one index. It can create and instantly search an unlimited number of indexes, according to the Society. The search engine provides dozens of search options, with Unicode support for hundreds of languages, and can display Web-based documents with links and images.

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