Over the past years, the National Library has sharpened its focus on its four core collections: Israel, Judaica, Islam and the Middle East, and the Humanities.

Image: In the Vineyard. KKL poster for nursery schools. Design: D. Zack. Israel, 1960

The National Library of Israel has sharpened its focus on its four core collections over the past years, with a dedicated curator for each of its areas of expertise: The Israel Collection, the Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection, the Islam and the Middle East Collection, and the Humanities Collection. Highlights include significant handwritten works by luminaries such as Maimonides and Sir Isaac Newton, exquisite Islamic manuscripts dating back to the ninth century, personal archives and writings of leading cultural and intellectual figures including Max Brod, Martin Buber, Natan Sharansky, and Naomi Shemer, and the Valmadonna Trust Library and Afghan Geniza collection. The National Library holds the world's largest treasury of Judaica texts and Jewish and Israeli music, as well as world-class collections of manuscripts, ancient maps, rare books, photographs, archival materials, and more. The following are some collection standouts:

The Valmadonna Trust Library

The Valmadonna Trust Library, the world’s finest private collection of Jewish manuscripts, prints, and posters, was acquired, nearly in its entirety, by the National Library of Israel in January 2017, with the generous support of the Haim and Hanna Salomon Fund, and in partnership with archaeology, book, and Judaica collectors, Dr. David and Jemima Jeselsohn. The Valmadonna Trust Library was assembled through more than six decades by visionary collector Jack Lunzer and comprises a wide-ranging collection of thousands of works that chart the spread of Hebrew printing and the global dissemination of Jewish culture.

Max Brod Literary Estate

Following a prolonged and dramatic legal battle, that stretched from Israel to Germany and Switzerland, in 2019 the National Library received the final batches of thousands of Max Brod’s personal papers, which include one of the world’s most significant assemblages of letters and manuscripts by Franz Kafka (rescued by Brod from the Nazis and held until his death in Tel Aviv in 1968). NLI staff immediately set to work on the in-depth process of cataloging, analyzing, and digitizing a first installation of manuscripts, letters, and diaries of Brod, as well as some Franz Kafka items. Amongst these papers was a hand-crafted version of Kafka's famous "Letter to Father." The entire story has received extensive national and international media coverage.

The Afghan Geniza

This collection of approximately 250 pages in Hebrew, Persian, and Aramaic, dating to the early 11th century, is the largest body of original materials from the Afghan region of that era and virtually the only primary source for information about this once-thriving Jewish community, as well as the region’s Islamic and Persian cultures prior to the Mongol invasion. The Afghan Geniza was acquired with the generous support of the William Davidson Foundation and the Haim and Hanna Salomon Fund. A 2019 exhibition at Russia’s legendary State Hermitage Museum, "Life in Medieval Khorasan - A Geniza from the National Library of Israel," showcased these unparalleled treasures of the NLI collection for the first time.

Dan Hadani - Israel Press and Photo Agency Collection

The Dan Hadani photographic collection, part of NLI's Pritzker Family National Photography collection, contains nearly one million images and negatives that document all major historical events and daily life in Israel from 1965 to 2000. Transfer of the collection was made possible through the generous support of the William Davidson Foundation.