Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2d ed., an eBook version

Now available to Georgia State faculty, students and staff at:


The following review is fromLibrary Journal, May 1, 2007:

This is the online version of the 22-volume printed second edition of Encyclopaedia Judaica, published recently by Macmillan Reference USA (an imprint of Thomson Gale) and Keter Publishing House. This updated edition of the 1972 classic contains over 21,000 scholarly articles (with 2600 new entries), 600 maps, tables, and illustrations, 150 pages of color photos, 30,000 new bibliographical listings, and, according to the Gale web site, extensive new treatments of contemporary Jewish life, including added emphasis of the role of women and explorations of the full global scope of the Diaspora.

How Does It Work? The opening page shows a thumbnail photo of the cover of the print Encyclopaedia, along with publication data (ISBN, subjects, brief description). It also offers a Quick Search, with a Find search box, as well as options for Basic Search and Advanced Search. Basic Search lets you search (using a single box) within Document title, Keyword, or Entire document. Advanced Search gives you three rows of search boxes and lets you limit your results: to documents with images, by publication date or a range of dates, by publication title, to a subject area, or to a target audience. This search system is designed for the most part for other e-resources affording more options than this one does. Since there is only one option available here in most categories (the publication title is Encyclopaedia Judaica, the default subject is Religion, and the default target audience is Academic), it doesn’t make sense for users to be given the option of choosing from a single default. But that is a pitfall with software that’s been designed to serve disparate kinds of e-resources.

Can You and Your Patrons Use It? My first Quick search for netanyahu located the entry Netanyahu, Binyamin, with links to full text, two PDF pages, a link to the about page for the Encyclopaedia, and a link for ways to cite the article (or to export it into EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, or RefWorks), as well as a generic citation for the signed article. Quite impressive, except that during the first ten minutes or so of working within the entry, I completely missed the full text.

When I clicked that link, I was taken to a new screen with the citation for the entry without the full-text option. The text was separated from the citation and just far enough down the page that I couldn’t see it. So I had one of those reviewer disjunctured experiences of scratching my head, wondering if it was the resource or me, until I eventually located the full text. At that point, I was able to scan the text quickly, with the search term highlighted in red and with active hyperlinks.

Next I tried a Basic search for the words gush katif in the document title. It located a one-and-a-half-page article about the history of this group of 18 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. The graphics within articles (such as the maps) display more clearly in the PDF version, which makes for better printing as well. Each article is scholarly, signed, and remarkably up-to-date for a print-based resource.

How Good Is It? Despite some difficulty in getting to the full text, this is a work of tremendous scholarship and importance. As such, it deserves a 10.

The Bottom Line:  Students and scholars of Jewish studies and the librarians serving them have been waiting for years for this resource to be digitized. Strongly recommended for all libraries.

Author: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian for the Widener Library at Harvard University

*Author ID: 95 Author name: Tammy*

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