Samaritan Manuscripts at Michigan State University and Hebrew Union College Library
Creating easy and reliable internet access to Samaritan manuscripts and the Ancient Hebrew alphabet
Dr. Jim Ridolfo,
University of Kentucky writes:
In 2003 Benyamim Tsedaka visited Michigan State University and spoke before a public meeting of the Board of Trustees. Tsedaka told the university trustees that they have in their library a large collection of Samaritan manuscripts, which came to them from the estate of the late Edward Kirk Warren. Benyamim Tsedaka asked the university to allow more public access to manuscripts.
Five years after Benyamim Tsedaka’s remarks, in 2008, I found his request to the Board of Trustees while looking for online information about the Samaritan manuscripts in the Michigan State University library. My curiosity about the manuscripts increased, and I wanted to check with Benyamim Tsedaka to learn if the university had ever done something with them since his 2003 visit, and I found that little had been done.
A Google search found Benyamim Tsedaka’s correct email address, and I sent him a short message: Hi, my name is Jim Ridolfo and I am a doctoral student at Michigan State University. I found your request regarding the Samaritan manuscripts from 2003. Do you still want to do something with them? Would you want to work with me to digitize manuscripts here at Michigan State University?
In response, Benyamim wrote back, yes, yes! So, we had a project to digitize Samaritan manuscripts.
Since 2008, Dr. William Hart-Davidson and me continue to computerize the Samaritan manuscripts at two universities: Michigan State University and Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.
You can see several important manuscripts at the project site:
For example, you can read a rare manuscript of Deuteronomy from 1145 CE, plus parts of three Samaritan manuscripts dating back over 500 years in Egypt. In addition, there’s an attached map of the Samaritan manuscripts outside Israel.
Ancient Samaritan Hebrew Keyboard
I also created a Samaritan Keyboard for Apple computers and Microsoft keyboards that can be downloaded here:
In the future we plan to continue to computerize Samaritan manuscripts in both universities. If there are readers of the newspaper A.B. – The Samaritan News or participants on Facebook that have ideas or questions, please write me at:
(Photo: Dr. Jim Ridolfo)
Benyamim Tsedaka writes:
AB – The Samaritan News and A.B. – Institute of Samaritan Studies meticulously provide correct information about the Israelite Samaritans on the website: www.israelite-samaritans.com. In addition, the site of the researcher Dr. Jim Ridolfo at the University of Kentucky shows the beginning of a joint committee project to digitise Samaritan manuscripts at Michigan State University.
Dr. Jim Ridolfo are I are contributors to the reputable internet sites mentioned above. One site features ancient Samaritan manuscripts, with information about the location of Samaritan manuscripts worldwide. The other site features the Keyboard for Ancient Samaritan Hebrew script.
Recently, Eyal Cohen, a member of the Israeli Committee of the Samaritans in Holon asked me: “When you will no longer be in the world, how will future generations find information about all the Samaritan manuscripts in the world, and access to them?”
The article by Jim Ridolfo and the resources indicated here provide a complete answer to this question.