- My NYPL
Tools and Services
- Using the Library
I am a...
- Classes & Events
- Support the Library
How to Find Hebrew Books
Searching for Hebrew Books without Hebrew Script
Please note these are tips for searching; this is not a cataloging guide.
Much of our Hebraic language collection is now available in the computer catalog and it is now possible to search in Hebrew script. If your computer is Hebrew enabled, please click here. If not, it is possible to search for an item written in Hebrew characters by following some of the rules catalogers use to enter their records, entering a "romanized" title (i.e. one in "Roman" or "English" script).
The Library of Congress has special romanization tables which indicate which letters should be used to represent the consonants and vowels in Hebrew/Yiddish.
Please note that when searching the catalog no character is required to represent the aleph and ayin. Just enter the accompanying vowel. Neither should the dots below the Roman script letters be entered (i.e on the vav, het, tet and kof) nor the line above the s for the sin.
In Hebrew only romanize yod as y when it is followed by a vowel. (Note that we romanize Daniyel not Daniel)
When romanized, Hebrew prefixes are almost always separated by a hyphen from the word to which they are joined i.e. not haarets BUT ha-arets.
With this in mind:
1) The definite article ha- at the beginning of a title should not be entered in a search.
2) In almost all other instances the definite article is romanized as ha-
3) The prefix vav is romanized ve- before any consonant except :
before a bet, vav, mem or peh = u- e.g u-vet or u-foalav
before any initial letter with a sheva = u- e.g u-khetav
before a consonant with hataf-patah or hataf kamats = va- e.g. va-avodah
before a yod with a sheva = vi- BUT Library of Congress rules require the sheva that should have assimilated remain, i.e. Vi-Yerushalayim not vi-yrushalayim.
The prefixes be- , ke- and le- behave as above. If they include the definite article then they will be romanized ba-, la-, etc.
MORE ON HYPHENATION
The case of Levi and Kohen : when romanizing as family name do not use a hyphen i.e. use Halevi or Hakohen
However when it is a title it should be ha-Levi or ha-Kohen.
It is also important to note the following romanizations Be-reshit & Va-yikra.
"Little words" where hyphenation is dependent on their appearance in the dictionary will rarely appear in the title phrase you wish to search and will not be dealt with here.
The sheva nah (non-vocal sheva) is ignored. The Alcalay dictionary is a useful aid in the identification of this sheva—he did not transcribe it.
The sheva at the beginning of a Hebrew word (sheva na or vocal sheva) is romanized e i.e. teshuvah not tshuvah.
However, in some cases the sheva na is not romanized. One of the most common instances in a title is the construct form of toladot which is rendered toldot (not toledot) as in Toldot Yaakov.
The Princeton University library Hebrew cataloging guide provides an extensive list of romanized abbreviations [http://library.princeton.edu/departments/tsd/katmandu/hebrew/open.html]
and some examples of Hebrew words which may present difficulties