In 2001, the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH), the leading European publisher of critical editions of medieval texts, agreed to collaborate in publishing a series of Hebrew texts composed in medieval Germany. This innovative project amounts to the first (and still the only) instance of Hebrew sources being included in a collection of sources for the history of a European country. The Academy’s steering committee, headed by Prof. Benjamin Z. Kedar, has thus far approved the publication of six volumes.
The first volume in the series, prepared by Eva Haverkamp, Professor of Medieval Jewish History and Culture at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, and published in 2005, is a critical edition of the Hebrew chronicles describing the massacres of Jews in Germany during the initial stage of the First Crusade – the “Persecutions of 1096.”
The second volume, entitled First Crusade Piyyutim (2016), features 27 liturgical poems (piyutim) composed in the aftermath of the massacres. For each Hebrew text, with its critical apparatus, a German translation is displayed on the facing page. The commentaries on the text and the volume’s Introduction are in German, with a Hebrew abstract of the Introduction following the Hebrew title page. Prof. Abraham Gross of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Mr. Avraham Frankel prepared the critical edition of the Hebrew texts and wrote the Introduction. Dr. Peter Sh. Lehnardt, also of Ben-Gurion University, was responsible for the German translation and contributed a number of substantive comments.
The third volume, a critical edition, in two parts, of Takkanot Shum – decrees issued by the medieval rabbinical leaders of the cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz in the Rhineland – prepared by Dr. Rainer Josef Barzen of the University of Münster, was published in December 2019.
Four further volumes are currently in preparation: a collection of Jewish contracts from medieval Germany, prepared by Prof. Yosef Rivlin of Bar-Ilan University and Prof. Hans-Georg von Mutius of Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München; and three accounts by medieval Jewish travelers: The Travels of Petaḥya of Regensburg, prepared by Dr. Abraham David of the National Library of Israel; The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela, prepared by Dr. Jonathan Rubin and Dr. Pinchas Roth of Bar-Ilan University; and the account of Ibrāhīm b. Ya`qūb, prepared by Prof. Jean-Charles Ducène of the Université libre de Bruxelles.
The project’s steering committee has issued a call for proposals for critical editions of various texts. To date, the committee has approved the proposals of Dr. Naama Ben-Shahar and of Yonatan Schmidt to prepare editions, respectively, of Sefer Haḥeshek and Sefer Ma‘aseh Hage’onim.
Additional volumes are in preparation and are slated to appear in the coming years.