Rome’s rabbi gifts Talmud to Library of Congress

The Library of Congress got an Italian-Jewish gift.

Prof. Mario Patrono, Dr. Jane McAuliffe, Prof. Clelia Piperno, and Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni. Photo by Aldo Soligno

WASHINGTON (RNS) — The Library of Congress got an Italian-Jewish present, brought all the way from Rome by its chief rabbi.

Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni of the Roman Jewish community on Monday (Oct. 23) presented the library the first volume of the first Talmud to be printed in Italy in 500 years.

The Talmud, a book of Jewish law compiled from the 3rd to 6th centuries A.D., and studied by every generation of Jews around the world since, has deep Italian roots.

“Italy is the place where the Talmud was printed for the first time. … It is a very symbolic event that we wanted to share with the wider public,” Di Segni said.

The Talmud presented to the library, translated from the original Aramaic, is the product of a technology developed by Italian researchers called the Traduco system, which relies on principles of computational linguistics.

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Di Segni, who chairs the Babylonian Talmud Translation Project, told librarians that he expects to produce translations of the Talmud in other languages in addition to Italian. The project’s object is to make the Babylonian Talmud, the most widely read version of the book, accessible to more people.

The project, which was supported by the Italian government and which began work on the 30-volume, Italian-language Talmud in 2011, has involved 90 researchers and translators worldwide.

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