Prenumeranten: What We Can Learn from Subscription Lists in Hebrew Books

Starting in the last quarter of the 18th century, many Hebrew and Jewish books were published with lists of
subscribers, whose prepayments funded the book’s publication.
These lists of subscribers, or “prenumeranten”, are a gold mine of information on historical reading
habits, names, growth of communities, travel routes, local institutions, and more. Of course, they are also
a treasure trove of genealogical information. Yet the lists have been largely overlooked by scholars until
now. Rabbi Elli Fischer will discuss the Prenumeranten Project, an attempt to organize and digitize these
lists into a functioning database, and present findings of particularly genealogical interest.

Rabbi Elli Fischer is an independent writer, translator, and rabbi. Previously, he was the JLIC rabbi and
campus educator at the University of Maryland. He holds BA and MS degrees from Yeshiva University,
rabbinical ordination from Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, and is working toward a doctorate in Jewish History
at Tel Aviv University. He is editor of Rabbi Eliezer Melamed’s Peninei Halakha series in English and
cofounder of HaMapah, a project that applies quantitative analysis to rabbinic literature. He is a founding
editor of The Lehrhaus, a web magazine of contemporary Jewish thought, and his writing has appeared in
numerous Jewish publications.

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