Friday, June 19, 2009

Jewish Publication Society and the Tagged Tanakh

I just read this news flash and found the comments about the Tagged Tanakh to be very interesting.

Jewish Publication Society Head Stepping Down

By Marcia Z. Nelson -- Publishers Weekly, 6/18/2009 9:59:00 AM

Ellen Frankel, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Jewish Publication Society, is stepping down from her position Aug. 1. Frankel will remain as a consultant and editor emerita to JPS; COO and publishing director Carol Hupping will serve as interim CEO.

“I love what I do at JPS and I also love to write, and I’ve found that I cannot keep up the pace,” said Frankel, 58, whose ninth book, The Jewish Publication Society Illustrated Children’s Bible, will be published in August. Frankel has been editor-in-chief since 1991 and CEO since 1998. Under her leadership, JPS produced the 1999 Hebrew-English Tanakh, with a JPS translation, and The Commentators’ Bible, an English-language edition of a rabbinic classic. JPS’ Bible program is now being expanded through the Tagged Tanakh, an innovative and collaborative learning platform. “Content delivery is changing,” Frankel said. “The Jewish Publication Society is not going to be a publisher anymore but a knowledge business.”

“Ellen has upheld the mantle of a great tradition in scholarship as well as leading us to the next phase of JPS’ mission to bring our content to new audiences online,” David Lerman, president of the JPS Board of Trustees, said in a statement. JPS is a nonprofit, multi-denominational Philadelphia-based publisher of Jewish works written in English.

Frankel, who has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Princeton University, is a scholar of Jewish folklore. She has a number of projects ready to pursue. “I have so many writing projects on the back burner, I’m not sure which one I’ll tackle first, but I have a long list,” she said. (emphasis mine)

From the JPS website, I found the following description of this project:

The Tagged Tanakh is an online resource that encourages conversations around the Hebrew and English translation of the Bible. By blending curated content and user-generated tags and commentary, the Tagged Tanakh will make ideas and values embedded in this ancient text more accessible to wider audiences.


The Tagged Tanakh is the next step in the evolution of Torah. From scroll, to codex, to print, and now to a digital format, the Tagged Tanakh opens the door to previously unimagined possibilities. Programmers and JPS staff are currently building this state-of-the-art platform for interactively engaging with Torah.

This looks very interesting. It still appears to be in production. I'll have to poke around a bit more this weekend to see what this is all about.

As a Christian, I am deeply interested in Jewish students of the Bible, especially how they read and interpret the Scriptures. They often bring to the table a perspective that I would not have considered on my own. While in Charleston, I took the opportunity to visit the Jewish Studies Center on the campus of the College of Charleston. Although we didn't see eye to eye on critical matters of faith, they opened my eyes to the world of Jewish thought that has remained with me and has been a help to me as I read the Bible to this day. I'd like to find a local center here in Montgomery, but until I do this may be another avenue to consider.