JPS Moves Back to the Future

The Jewish Publication Society is helping to bring books from the past very much into the future.

The organization is digitizing its Hebrew Bible and related biblical titles to create the JPS Digital Bible Collection, accessible through a free online Web-based portal. In addition to text, the Web site will feature relevant commentaries and biblical legends released by JPS over the Philadelphia-based publishing house's 100-year history

"Because of the limitations of printed books, you can only present a snapshot of commentary at one time," said Ellen Frankel, CEO and editor-in-chief of JPS. "A Web portal allows the user to summon up a variety of commentaries, visual imagery, video, audio, music or paintings, and assemble [their] own rabbinic Bible."

Currently, a demo of the portal – produced courtesy of the Center for Online Judaic Studies – is available via the JPS Web site (

According to Frankel, depending on future funding, the publishing company hopes to have the site fully functional by 2007. At that time, JPS expects texts from 57 books to be available online.

The organization is also considering a fee-based scholars-level version, which would offer greater accessibility to other libraries and the opportunity for communication between researchers and students.

"We would like to make our Bible a resource to the widest possible audience," said Frankel. "A portal means doorway, and we'd like the portal to lead a user into the wide world of Jewish texts."


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