About the project
The Bnai Brith Library building was completed by the Jerusalem chapter of Bnai Brith on Bnai Brith Street in 1903 to accommodate a free lending library that had outgrown its temporary quarters near the Russian Compound. The core of the library’s collection was formed by the books of Eliezer Ben Yehuda (the father of the modern Hebrew language) and eight thousand volumes sent from Bialystok by Yosef Hazanovitch. The library later came under the auspices of the World Zionist Federation and was named the Jewish National Library. In 1930, the bulk of the collection was moved to the Hebrew University at Mt. Scopus, but the library remained open to the public and an important key to the world at-large for several future authors, including David Shahar and Amos Oz. The Jerusalem Foundation restored the building, including its first floor reading room, in 1978, marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of Bnai Brith in Israel. Eventually, the public library was closed and the facility came to serve as home to the Israel Office of the Rabbinical Office of America and Midreshset Hatoranit.