Povest’o ryzhem Motele,…(A tale about the red-haired Motel… ), 1933. Ada Booth Collection

Monash University Library holds an extensive selection of Jewish Studies materials in both electronic and print format and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to Jewish culture in Melbourne. The careful development of this collection supports undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as the learning, teaching and research interests of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation.

The collection spans a broad range of Jewish Studies areas from Medieval European Jewish history to modern Jewish history in Europe, America, the Soviet Union, Israel and Australia. There is a particular focus on Zionism, the Holocaust, modern Israel, Australian Jewry, and Polish Jewry.

Special collections

Among the Library’s special collections are two collections dedicated to Jewish Studies resulting from generous donations. There is the Giligich Yiddish collection which consists of a range of books written in the Yiddish language and includes drama, poetry, prose and literary criticism. Items are located off-site but can be requested to be sent to any of our Library branches.

There is also the Kipen Judaica collection located on level one of the Sir Louis Matheson Library which houses materials related to the history of Jewish  civilisation and Judaism. Fragile and valuable materials are housed in the Rare Books Collection while Slavic language materials pertaining to Jewish Studies  can be found in the Ada Booth Slavic Collection.

Recently, Monash Library had the privilege of acquiring a large donation of  valuable and rare Holocaust material from Ursula Flicker, a Holocaust survivor and founding archivist at the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre in Elsternwick. The ‘Ursula and Felix Flicker Collection’ includes print books, community newsletters, serials, ephemera and biographical material relating to the Holocaust and general history of Jews in Eastern Europe. Materials in this collection are in English, Polish, Russian, Hebrew and German.  The determination which led Ursula to accumulate such a significant collection provides some insight into her experiences after emigrating to Melbourne as well as her engagement with the local and global Jewish community. To  explore items from this donation, search for ‘Ursula and Felix Flicker Collection’  or follow this link.

 Jewish prayer book from the John Monash collection, “The form of daily prayers…,” 1836. Rare Books Collection

Online resources

These rich print collections are complemented by a new focus on electronic Jewish Studies resources. Of particular note is the Visual History Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education which Monash University was the first Australasian university to provide access to. With a collection of nearly 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses, in 32 languages and from 56 countries, this is the largest visual history archive in the world. The Institute interviewed Jewish survivors, homosexual survivors, Jehovah’s Witness survivors, liberators and liberation witnesses, political prisoners, rescuers and aid providers, Roma and Sinti survivors (Gypsy), survivors of Eugenics policies, and war crimes trials participants. The Archive can be accessed via Library Search and more detailed information as well as tips on how to use it effectively can be found here.

Our newest online resource complements the Visual History Archive. The Fortunoff Archive holds more than 4,400 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors, witnesses, and bystanders; the collection of the testimonies began in 1979. In addition to interviews conducted at Yale, 37 affiliate projects produced survivor testimonies for the archive, working in over a  dozen countries.

The Archive includes interviews in 21 languages and is accessible at both  Clayton and Caulfield campuses on a single designated PC at each campus.  At the Clayton campus it can be accessed on the PC in the Special Collections Reading Room. At Caulfield it is available on a single public walk up PC located just inside the Library. Detailed instructions on how to request testimonies and use the archive can be found here.

Books from the Kipen Judaica Collection, Matheson Library

Another fantastic online resource recently acquired is The Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture Online which offers researchers and interested readers new insights into Jewish history and culture. Translated from German into English and presenting the current state  of international research, it covers the recent history of the Jews from 1750 until the 1950s and depicts a complex  portrait of Jewish life – illustrated by many maps and images. About 40 key articles convey central themes on topics like autonomy, exile, emancipation, literature, liturgy, music or the science of Judaism. The seventh volume index offers a detailed list of persons, places and subjects that makes a reliable reference for working with the encyclopaedia.

There are many more key scholarly online resources and databases in Jewish Studies offered by the Library which you can explore in the Jewish Studies and Holocaust and Genocide Studies Library Guides. You can also contact the writer at louise.micallef@monash.edu who can provide more detailed information about the collection.


Writer Louise Micallef is the Subject Librarian for Jewish Studies, Politics and International Relations, Human Geography and Bioethics.