Research Guide

Jewish Cultural Tapestry


Course Description: JUDA 213 The course examines the different customs and traditions of Jews in various parts of the world throughout history. How do minorities develop and maintain their group identity? How have the Jews evolved both diversity and uniformity of practice and ideology? The focus will be on the geography and history of folk traditions: language, religious practice, foodways, dress, and music. The class will examine the phenomenon of diaspora, the dispersion of a people from its homeland, and will analyze the shared religious culture and the parallel, local specific culture.

Further Information: This course seeks to convey a deep understanding of the Jewish people throughout history. It is interdisciplinary in nature covering the humanities as well as social sciences. Various aspects of Judaism are studied including: history and traditions, religion, linguistics, and culture. The dynamics of individual and group identity and social development are also explored. Finally, the idea of diaspora will be studied including what it means to be expelled from a homeland and how group identity develops as a result.

Special Note:

This research guide is being initially developed as an assignment for INFO 672 Resources in the Humanities at Drexel University. Although this course is interdisciplinary in nature, the reference tools listed will only cover the humanities disciplines. Further reference tools will be provided at a later date.


Background Information

  1. Cambridge Guide to Jewish History, Religion and Culture
    • Baskin, Judith Reesa, and Kenneth Seeskin, eds. The Cambridge Guide to Jewish History, Religion, and Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.
    • This work explores the history and development of the Jewish religion from the ancient Israelites to modern Judaism. Special emphasis is given to the diversity of Judaism as a result of the diaspora. The illustrated work includes various maps, a timeline and glossary.
  2. Dictionary of Jewish Lore & Legend
    • Alan, Unterman. Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend. Thames & Hudson, 1991. Print.
    • This work provides an overview of Jewish legend as described through art and literature. It provides an understanding of the major protagonists of Jewish literature as well as the myths that surround them. Topic explored are literature and poetry, languages, Jewish law, mysticism and the various cultures that have made up the diaspora.
  3. Dictionary of Jewish Terms
    • Eisenberg, Ronald. Dictionary of Jewish Terms. Rockville: Schreiber, 2008. Print.
    • This work provides basic understanding for terminology relating to Judaism. It deals with actual Hebrew and Yiddish words as well as religious phrases and concepts. It also includes some slang.
  4. Encyclopedia of Holocaust Literature
    • Patterson, David. Encyclopedia of Holocaust Literature. Ed. Alan Berger and Sarita Cargas. Westport: Greenwood, 2002. Print.
    • This tome serves as a listing of writers relating to the Holocaust. 128 authors are profiled. Each entry includes a mini-biography as well as an explanation of the importance of their work. A critical analysis of each author’s major works is also included. Three appendices are included that provide easy reference to each author by date and country of birth as well as by legal name (helpful resource in regards to pseudonyms).
  5. Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism
    • Dennis, Geoffrey. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism. Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications, 2007. Print.
    • This award winning tome includes over 1000 entries relating to all aspects of the Jewish folk lore and occult. In addition to a bibliography, the work includes a glossary with information on Hebrew transliteration and usage. There is also an appendix that lists all illustrations.
  6. Jewish Literacy
    • Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. Revised ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2008. Print.
    •  In this updated version, Telushkin seeks to “answer the question of what it means to be a Jew”. Topics covered include history, Jewish life in the diaspora, and religious life including Jewish ethics, basic beliefs, liturgy, the calendar and holidays, prayer, and the synagogue service. Many chapters include resources for further reading and a topical index is provided at the end.
  7. New Encyclopedia of Judaism
    • Himelstein, Shmuel, Geoffrey Wigoder, and Fred Skolnik, eds. The New Encyclopedia of Judaism. New York: New York UP, 2002. Print.
    • This work provides an overview of every topic related to Conservative, Orthodox and Reform Judaism. It is an updated version of the original work which was selected by the American Library Association as an Outstanding Reference Book. This version adds nearly 250 entries to the original 1000. It is illustrated and includes a guide for usage as well as an annotated bibliography.


Finding Articles

  1. Academic Search Premier
    • ASP provides access to over 8,450 academic journals. Full text access is available for over half of the journals. Good coverage is provided for topics including the Bible, Judaism, Jewish philosophy and Jewish music. A video sharing tips for effective searching in this database can be found on YouTube.
  2.  ATLA
    • The American Theological Library Association database provides full text access to scholarly research articles covering various religions. Coverage relevante to Judaic studies includes topics on the Bible, religion, and theology. This database provides good access to articles regarding Jewish music and excellent coverage of the Bible, Judaism, and Jewish philosophy. A video sharing tips for effective searching in this database can be found on YouTube.
  3. Index to Jewish Periodicals
    • IJP provides abstracting and index for over 160 scholarly journals. Relevant topical coverage includes the Bible and excellent coverage of Jewish music. Full text access is limited.
  4.  RAMBI
    • This is an open access database that is freely available on the web. It provides abstracting and index for scholarly articles published in several languages. Excellent topical coverage is provided for the Bible, Judaism and Jewish philosophy. Good coverage is provided for Jewish education and music as well as Ancient Near East topics. No full text access is provided. Although articles cited are in various languages, including English, the website is only in Hebrew.


 Finding Books

LC Call Numbers– Browse the stacks in the following categories:

  • BM- Judaism
  • BS- The Bible
  • ML 198-360.6 History and criticism of music by region or country
  • ML 3544-3776 Folk, national, and ethnic music
  • ML 3916-3918 Social and political aspects of music
  • ML 3921-3921.8 Religious aspects of music
  • NK 1648-1678 Religious Art
  • NX 650-694 Special subjects, characters, persons, religious arts, etc.
  • PJ 4501-5192 Hebrew
  • PJ 4543-4937 Language (Biblical and modern)
  • PJ 4951-4996 Medieval Hebrew
  • PJ 5001-5060 Literature
  • PJ 5050-5055.51 Individual authors and works
  • PJ 5061-5192 Other languages used by Jews
  • PJ 5111-5192 Yiddish
  • PN 842 Jewish literature in various languages

LC Subject Headings– Try searching using the following subject headings:

  • Judaism
  • Judaism and art
  • Judaism and culture
  • Judaism and Jewish life
  • Judaism and literature
  • Judaism and philosophy
  • Judaism–creeds
  • Judaism–Customs and practices
  • Judaism–Dictionaries–Hebrew

Keywords– Try a keyword search using the following words:

  • Jewish religious practice
  • Jewish religious culture
  • Jewish folklore
  • Judaism and diaspora
  • liturgical Judaism
  • Hebrew linguistics
  • Yiddish development



  1. Hebrew Linguistics
    • Livnat, Zohar, ed. Hebrew Linguistics: A Journal for Hebrew Descriptive, Computational and Applied Linguistics. Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan UP. Print.
    • This resource provides scholarly and peer reviewed research articles relating to Hebrew linguistics. The focus is largely on modern Hebrew, although articles are included that relate to Hebrew throughout the ages.
  2. Jewish Studies- an Internet Journal
    • Jewish Studies, an Internet Journal. Bar-Ilan University. Web. <;.
    • This resource is a freely available online journal providing peer reviewed research articles covering all aspects of Judaic studies. This journal includes articles in both English and Hebrew. All articles are available in either PDF (.pdf) or Microsoft Word (.doc) formats.
  3. Journal of Jewish Languages
    • Tirosh-Becker, Ofra, and Sarah Bunin Benor, eds. Journal of Jewish Languages. Leiden: Brill. Print.
    • This resource provides peer reviewed academic research articles on the study of Jewish languages. In addition to Hebrew and Yiddish, other national languages that have been Judaized are also studied. This is a new academic journal that began publication in 2013.
  4. Journal of Jewish Studies
    • Vermes, Geza, Sacha Stern, and Andrea Schatz, eds. Journal of Jewish Studies. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Print.
    • This work provides scholarly and peer reviewed research articles covering issues relating to Judaic studies. Major topics covered include history, literature and religion. The journal is available both in print and online. A freely available table of contents is provided on the journal website.
  5. Journal of Semitic Studies
    • Alexander, P.S., R. Buckley, G.J. Brooke, D. Eades, J.F. Healey, P.C. Sadgrove, and R. Smithuis, eds. Journal of Semitic Studies. Oxford: Oxford UP. Print.
    • This work provides scholarly and peer reviewed research articles relating to topics involving the ancient and modern near-East. It includes extensive information on the languages and literatures of the Middle East. Each volume contains works relating to Biblical scholars. Access is available in print or online- both with a paid subscription



  1. American Sephardi Federation
    • The Federation serves to preserve and make available for study the history of Sephardic Jewish culture. The organization features a library with over 10,000 cataloged items and an archives of more than 300 linear feet of materials. Genealogy materials are a featured component of the collections, but the Federation also provides access to various hard to find academic journals as well as various cultural materials. Archival finding aids are available online and a bookstore is also available. The online library catalog is not available for public searching.
  2. Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art
    • The museum is located in Tulsa, OK, but the website provides a valuable overview of the history of Jewish art. The museum includes collections on Jewish History and Culture, the Holocaust and Jewish life in Oklahoma. The history and culture collection includes archaeological artifacts, ritual and life cycle objects, ethnology and fine art. Historical information is provided as well as a few images of collection items. Two short videos serve as a brief virtual tour of the collection.
  3. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
    • The YIVO Institute serves to preserve and make available for study the history of Ashkenazic Jewish culture. It includes a library of reference and research materials including language resources. The institute also houses the Max and Frieda Weinstein Archives of Recorded sound. The archives includes recordings of all genres of Jewish music. Samples from the sound archive are available for listening.



  1. Aish
    • This website provides information on Jewish history and culture. It includes a section on “Jewish 101” for basic introductory Jewish beliefs. Other sections include Torah portions, holidays and the Jewish calendar and current events. Aish is subtitled “Your Life. Your Judaism.” and is known for providing information on the modern Jewish life.
  2. Internet Sacred Text Archive
    • This website provides full text access to sacred texts of various world religions. Judaic texts include history, legends, literature, liturgy, scriptures, teachings, mystic writings and prayer books. Texts are grouped by type and links are provided to outside resources which provide further information.
  3. Jewish Virtual Library
    • This online library provides an interactive experience of Jewish history, religion and art. The library provides information on history, geography, politics, religion and reference. The user is able to take virtual tours of important Jewish communities throughout the world and history. The Virtual Israel Experience provides information on the history and culture of Israel.  A section on Art provides the history of Jewish art from antiquity to the modern diaspora.
  4. My Jewish Learning
    • This website provides a basic overview of Judaism. Information includes religious beliefs and practices, history, culture,  and religious texts. The resource is designed for beginners and provides a mix of history and modern Jewish culture.