Sefaria adds Russian-language translation of biblical texts to its digital library

“These new translations will make their Torah learning easier, more seamless, and, we believe, deeply meaningful,” said CEO Daniel Septimus.

Sefaria added Russian translations of many biblical texts to its digital library. Credit: Courtesy.
Sefaria added Russian translations of many biblical texts to its digital library. Credit: Courtesy.

Sefaria, the nonprofit organization that digitizes and freely shares Jewish texts in Hebrew and translation, unveiled Russian translations of biblical texts that include all five books of the Torah; several books of Prophets; and the scrolls of Ruth and Esther.

“This release is a major milestone in our efforts to make Jewish texts accessible to communities around the world,” said Daniel Septimus, CEO of Sefaria. “Last year, almost 34,000 people whose primary language is Russian visited Sefaria. These new translations will make their Torah learning easier, more seamless, and, we believe, deeply meaningful.”

The translations were donated by the Nadav Foundation, an Israel-based organization dedicated to strengthening Jewish identity and peoplehood. Over the past decade, the Foundation has assembled an expansive collection of Jewish materials, including the translations now available on Sefaria, which were crafted by Dmitri Slivniak and edited by Itzhak Streshinsky.

Sefaria will mark the addition of these new texts during a livestreamed event on March 10, with panelists discussing the history and importance of Russian Bible translations. Moderated by Sefaria, panelists are Leonid Rozengauz, project director at the Nadav Foundation; Maria Kaspina, Russian Bible scholar; and Slivniak, translator of the newly added texts.

“Bringing the text of the Torah to Russian-speaking Jews is urgent and essential. For too long, Soviet rule meant Jewish people had to hide their connection to their heritage. These translations bring us closer to repair, and bring text meanings closer to our everyday lives,” says Leonid Rozengauz.

The event also kicks off a celebratory week in which members of the Russian-speaking Jewish community are invited to “write” a letter in the Global Community Torah. These letters will form an entire section of a digital Torah “scroll” contributed by Russian-speaking Jews from around the world.

Experts in American Jewish community demographics estimate that Russian-speaking Jews make up about 10% of the American Jewish community, from as many as 750,000 people to fewer than 500,000. About 900,000 Russian-speaking Israelis live in Israel.

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Sefaria is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building the future of Jewish learning in an open and participatory way. We are assembling a free living library of Jewish texts and their interconnections, in Hebrew and in translation. With these digital texts, we can create new, interactive interfaces for Web, tablet and mobile, allowing more people to engage with the textual treasures of our tradition.
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