מדעי היהדות הדיגיטליים – שני מושבים מיוחדים במסגרת הכנס לדיגיטציה של התרבות

יום שני (הקרוב!), 10 לנובמבר, י”ז בחשוון

אנחנו שמחים לפתוח את השנה (באיחור מסוים) בשני מושבים מיוחדים מטעם האיגוד העולמי של לימודי יהדות: מושב על כיוונים דיגיטליים בלימודי יהדות, ומושב על פתיחות ופתיחה של משאבים בעברית. למרות התקצירים שלעיל – ההצגות יהיו בשפה העברית. הרשמה לכנס לתלמידי מחקר היא ללא תשלום (אנא פנו למילי חזן לקבלת קוד הרשמה וכתבו שהגעתם דרך סיני).

נשמח לראותכם!

יעקב דויטש (האיגוד העולמי למדעי היהדות) וסיני רוסינק (אקדמית פולונסקי במכון ון ליר, רוח דיגיטלית)

קישור לתכנית באתר הכנס

First session:

14:00-15:30 – Upper Hall

Kabbalah Research: Toward New Digital Perspectives
Yoed Kadary, Ben Gurion University

 The research of Kabbalah, i.e. Jewish Mysticism is a developing and popular field of study, nevertheless it is still relatively new, and many of its primary sources are still in manuscripts. Coming from the consumers’ side of the map and not from the one of the developers of digital means, my presentation is merely a “shopping list” of digital tools to promote Kabbalah research. In a more serious note, my aim in this paper is to characterize the research needs, to portray an initial technological vision, and to invite collaborations. I will discuss the need for two types of tools: one for analyzing the preliminary sources and the manuscripts of the Kabbalah research field, and one that will promote the efficiency of currently used research materials. Furthermore, I will discuss the lack of attention given by scholars to the potential of technological tools and the way new technologies can shape anew our basic research questions. In addition, I will emphasize the need for providing accessibility, friendly interfaces and implementation by the developers’ side of the map.

Creating a Corpus of Early Christian Law:
The Hidden – Law Database
Dr. Yifat Monnickendam, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

An official ruling does not necessarily determine the practice, just as legislation does
not always become the custom. In the gap between them lies a key to understanding
processes of influence and rejection, of polemic and discourse, and of power and
authority. This project seeks to reveal the gap between imperial law and Christian
customs and practices in the late-antique Eastern Roman Empire. Deciphering this
gap will serve as a lens to viewing trends, ties and mutual influences among
Christians, Romans and Jews, to observing similar, yet unrelated and independent,
developments in these communities, to discussing different attitudes to law and
authority and to addressing the larger question of the evolvement of Christian law.
Early Christian legal thought and practice was influenced by Roman and Greek
law, by Jewish law, and by Christian legal traditions. While Roman, Greek and
Jewish legal sources are readily accessible in various databases and studies, sources of
the emerging Christian law are limited, with only few legal compositions being
available. Nevertheless, as I have recently shown, indirect evidence of Christian legal
thought and practice are preserved in non-legal Christian literature. Such evidence is
important not only because it fills the gap created by the lack of legal literature, but
particularly because of its indirect nature: Indirect evidence mined from non-legal
literature may reflect practice and behavior – rather than the official law and norms –
and hence preserve legal traditions rejected from formal legal corpora.
Studying the development of Christian law starts, therefore, by collecting and
cataloging this indirect evidence, and organizing the information in a way which will
not only support current research but will also inspire new questions and new
research. For this task I planned a database of tagged paragraphs from compositions
of five late-antique communities: Christian, Roman, Jewish, Greek (Papyri) and
Sectarian (Qumran). Each community includes a list of compositions, on which the
following metadata is given: author, date of composition, place, and bibliographical
information. Once a paragraph is catalogued, information about it draws either from
this metadata, or from specific data on the specific paragraph (e.g. a third century
exegetical text by Origen which is preserved in a sixth century catenae, will be
catalogued as a text by Origen).

The first texts to be catalogued in this project are Christian compositions in
Greek and Syriac, surveyed first in translation and then by using terminological
searches in digitized texts of the original languages. Relevant paragraphs are copied to
the database and tagged according to the legal issues they refer to. These tags,
together with the metadata detailed above, are the basis for the search results and their
display. The results are displayed in four formats: 1) word-clouds of the different tags
of one search. The words’ size is according to their frequency, thus allowing the
researcher to see what legal topics are connected to others, especially when they were
not intuitively related and were not the tags of the original search. 2) Maps (GIS)
which show where certain legal topics were discussed. 3) Timelines which highlight
specific periods in which certain issues were discussed. 4) Lists of texts and their
metadata which allows for an in-depth study, rather than show trends and tendencies,
and form the basis for a future expansion of this project to creating tools of natural
language processing.

This project enjoys collaborations with several similar projects, including the
BYU-Oxford Syriac Corpus (http://cpart.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/home/sec/), the
Syriac Gazetteer (Syriaca.org), and the new database, “Greek Contracts in Context.”

Digital tools for improving the Editions of Cryptic Scrolls from Qumran
Dr. Jonathan Ben-Dov, University of Haifa

A small corpus within the Dead Sea Scrolls contains parchments and papyri written in code, sometimes called ‘crytic script A’. The papyri are in an extremely bad state of preservation, and the parchments have fared only slightly better. This code was first deciphered y J.T. Milik, who has generally identified the contents of each of the scrolls. Further work by Stephen Pfann in the 1990s made an enormous contribution to the decipherment of these fragments. Most of the scrolls have been published in the ‘official’ series Discoveries in the Judaean Desert and are available to the public also in other preliminary editions. Yet, some of the scrolls are only partially available, and some remain without an official edition. Even those that have been published still raise unanswered questions and thus gain inferior status in Scrolls’ research. The cryptic corpus is a microcosmos of many material problems pertaining to reconstruction of scrolls, to a high degree of complexity. Altogether the cryptic corpus includes over 400 papyrus fragments and several hundred more parchment fragments.

My project is carried out with the following partners: Nachum Derschowitz and Lior Wolff (Tel-Aviv University), Daniel Stoekl Ben-Ezra (EPHE, Paris), and the graduate student Asaf Gayer (Haifa). We make extensive use of the new images made available by the Israel Antiquities Authority: http://www.deadseascrolls.org.il, and of the new multispectral imaging technology employed in that project. The new photos enable an unprecedented work of enhanced algorithmic methods in order to map the material features of the fragments, record them in computer databases, and then run a computerized analysis of the fragments ascertaining their classification into discrete scrolls and their placement in the manuscript. We plan to map the fiber pattern of each fragment and search for similar patterns in adjoining fragments. This is unprecedented in scrolls research and we hope to use it for shedding light on our particularly difficult corpus. Finally, we hope to make this project a pioneer of digital editions of the DSS, since as per today all transcriptions of the scrolls are protected under copyright, a status we deem unproductive for future research.

Dr. Nahum Dershowitz, Tel Aviv University
Comments and discussion

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Second session

15.30 – 17.30 – Upper Hall

How to open a digital text

 Sinai Rusinek, Polonsky Academy & DHIsrael

This year saw some promising beginnings in the field of Digital Jewish studies. This statement may sound odd: some may say that digital Jewish studies have been here for a long time; starting already in the early 1960, pioneering Israeli projects such as the Historical Dictionary of the Academy for Hebrew Language and Responsa put computers to use in the creation of resources for the humanities. More recently, large digitization projects such as the Friedberg Genizah Project, the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library and Digitalization projects at the National Library and abroad provided unprecedented access to sources, whereas other endeavors such as the Ben Yehuda project, Historical Jewish Press, the Mamre Institute and wiki-text were dedicated to make available texts in a digital form.

However, while all of these were and are pioneering digital projects for the humanities, a new generation of endeavors, which we could categorize as computation in the humanities, or as it named elsewhere “Digital Humanities 2.0”, presents an inherently different approach. This approach, as I would argue, promises more growth and sustainability to Jewish studies, and the Humanities in general. The difference lies in principles of openness, where “open” means much more than just free access. In my talk I will explore these new developments and directions and try to explain how this new approach reflects on Jewish studies scholars and scholarship.

The Sefaria Project:
An Online and Open-Source Library for the Jewish Canon
Lev Israel & Ephraim Damboritz, Sefaria

The Sefaria project is an actively developed open-source software project bringing the Jewish canon online and into the public domain.  It is remarkable both for its technological developments and for offering its users unrestricted rights to all of the information that it stewards.    It currently houses nearly 25 million words of interlinked text, including close to a million words of original user-created translation.  It is being used by educators in classrooms, by individual users for their own study, and for some initial forays into visualization.  Its open API is being used by third parties to develop their own applications, and it has potential to be used in scholarly algorithmic analysis of the contained texts.

We will present the current status of the project and our plans for development, and suggest ways that it can be used by scholars of Jewish texts and repurposed for other collections of interconnected texts.

How can Open Data contribute to digital heritage?
“Open Press” as a case study
Noam Castel & Ido Ivri, the Public Knowledge Workshop

The talk will discuss the Open Press Archive, a collaboration between HaSadna (www.hasadna.org.il) – the Public Knowledge Workshop, and the National Library of Israel, to transform the historic Jewish Press website (http://jpress.org.il), which contains some 1,500,000 pages of searchable newspaper pages, into an open repository, discoverable by search engines and accessible programmatically. We will discuss what was done so far, what the plans are for the near future, and what opportunities will arise because of this collaboration.