Russian and Israeli libraries have signed an agreement to digitize and publish online a major collection of ancient Hebrew manuscripts and books seized by the Soviets authorities 100 years ago.
The deal signed in Jerusalem on November 7 between the Russian State Library and the National Library of Israel will see the Moscow library taking digital photographs of the Gunzburg collection. The photos will then be handed to the Israeli library who will post them online.
The project is supported by an unspecified "generous donation" from Russian billionaire Ziyavudin Magomedov’s Moscow-based Peri Foundation, the National Library of Israel said in a statement.
The Gunzburg collection contains around 2,000 Jewish manuscripts and thousands of printed volumes, some of them dating back centuries. They include works on the Bible, Jewish law, mathematics, and philosophy.
It was amassed by three generations of the Russian Jewish Gunzburg family. The Zionist movement bought the collection in 1917, but Soviet authorities got hold of it before it left the country.
Magomedov, the 49-year-old chairman of Summa Group, is Russia's 58th-wealthiest person, with an estimated worth of $1.5 billion, according to Forbes.
His foundation has financed heritage projects across Russia, particularly in his native Daghestan region.