Thursday, February 24, 2011

Terminology: Ashkenazic or Ashkenazi; Sephardic or Sephardi

Question: In an essay I am writing, I am describing the handwriting of medieval Hebrew manuscripts from Spain. Should I use the descriptive term Sephardic or Sephardi? Likewise, in describing manuscripts from Germany would the appropriate term be Ashkenazi or Ashkenazic?

Answer: All four terms are used in scholarly books and journals when referring to Hebrew manuscripts.

The Oxford English Dictionary (online version accessed 22 February 2011) includes entries for both Ashkenazic and Sephardic, both as adjectives. There is an entry for Sephardi, but it is defined primarily as a noun, “A Spanish or Portuguese Jew” . There is no entry for Ashkenazi, although ironically OED uses this term in its definitions and etymologies of other entries!
Other English-language dictionaries include entries for all four terms.

The 2011 JTS Style Guide, issued by the JTS Communications Department, lists Ashkenazi and Sephardi in its section on transliterated words.

In short, if your editor requires all your terminology to be in the English language, I suggest you use Ashkenazic and Sephardic which have been fully incorporated into the English language as adjectives. Alternatively, if you have the option of using transliterated Hebrew words, you may prefer to use the terms Ashkenazi and Sephardi.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Finding Book Reviews in Digitized Journals

Question: How can I find English & Hebrew book reviews of specific scholarly books published in the last few decades?

Answer: Use the following article databases to locate book reviews:

2. Type the name of the author [of the book to be reviewed], last name first, in the SEARCH FOR box. The results list will specify the title of the book reviewed, followed by (Review) or (ביקורת).

Although the results list may list both English and Hebrew reviews, to be absolutely sure you retrieve all the reviews search twice: once spelling the author's name in English, and a second time spelling the author's name in Hebrew.

ATLA/ATLAS Religion Database:
2. Type the author's last name in the first text box [author of the book to be reviewed]
3. Type the first few words of the title in the second text box

2. Choose BROWSE SUBJECT HEADINGS FOR ARTICLES from left-hand margin of screen
3. Type the author's last name, comma, first name in the text box [author of the book to be reviewed]

The results list will specify the author & titles of each book reviewed, followed by the number of reviews.

1. Type short title of the book in the text box

1. Use ADVANCED SEARCH (Mouse over search option to reveal Advanced Search)
2. In the text box, type: rt: "short title of the book whose review you want"
Be sure to include the colon after rt, and put the title in quotes.
3. If you retrieve reviews of various books with the same title, you can also type, in the next text box:
ra: last name of author of book whose reviews you want.
For example, if you want reviews of Moshe Idel's book Kabbalah: New Perspectives, in the first text box type:
rt: "Kabbalah New Perspectives"
In the second text box type:
ra: Idel

Click on the image below to enlarge it

Please access these subscription databases from our Online Resources pages (when on campus) or via Remote Access when off campus, using your JTS email ID and password. Rambi is freely available to all, courtesy of the Jewish National Library in Jerusalem.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Academic Blogs on Jewish Studies

Recently, an article by Heidi Lerner, entitled: “Online Resources for Talmud Research, Study, and Teaching”, was published in: AJS Perspectives : The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies [Fall 2010 – p.46-47]. The following blogs that deal with Jewish Studies from an academic perspective were recommended:


To this list, I would add the following blog:


Can any readers suggest (in the comments section) other academic Jewish Studies blogs that may be of interest?