About Project Ben-Yehuda
What is Project Ben-Yehuda?

Project Ben-Yehuda aims to make accessible the classics of Hebrew literature (poetry and prose, but also essays, letters, memoirs, and reference works) to the reader of Hebrew. For that purpose, the literary works are converted to a format that is readable and searchable on the Internet. The project is intended to be of use for both amateurs and scholars of literature. It is inspired by the parallel English project started by the late Michael S. Hart called Project Gutenberg.

Is there no copyright violation involved in posting works online?

No. The project’s editors take copyright laws seriously, and usually works that are in the public domain (that is, according to Israeli law, works where seventy years have passed since the end of the year of the author’s death) are included in the project. The exception to this rule is when the project receives explicit permission by copyright holders to include a work before the copyright on it has expired, as is the case with the works of David Ben-Gurion, Aharon Meged, Avraham Shlonski & Nathan Alterman.

What works are included in the project?

Our knowingly ambitious goal is to bring the entirety of Hebrew classics to the Internet. At this time we are working on the authors appearing in our home page. We would be happy to receive suggestions regarding the choice of texts.

Why can’t I click on some of the works to see them?

We try and upload material to the site incrementally, so that most works become available as soon as possible. This means that for some authors, we have not finished preparing their entire works yet. Material that is ready for viewing is linked (and colored blue, in most browsers), and material that is not ready is colored black and is not clickable.

What about Goldberg, Amichai, etc.?

Israeli copyright law protects works for a duration of 70 years after the end of the year of the author’s death. This means that we cannot publish the works of these and many other authors for now, unless we get written permission from the copyright owners (heirs, publishers, or literary executors).

How does the material arrive at the site?

Manually: a volunteer scans a book, another volunteer types it from the scanned pages and into a word processor file, which is then translated to HTML and uploaded to the site. Most of the effort, of course, is in typing the text, and more precisely (with poetry) in adding diacritics to it.

Why manual typing? Why not scan the texts and display them as graphical image files?

Because image files are not searchable by a computer. A great feature of the project is the ability to find a work even if you remember only a phrase from it, but not its title or author.

Why not use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software?

We are not aware of an OCR program that can handle the texts we deal with – older fonts, yellowed pages, and diacritics. The free and open source HOCR comes close, but isn’t quite accurate enough to be significantly time-saving for us. It is also not in active development since 2008.

How can I help?

You can join as a volunteer in the project. Help usually means typing and proofreading texts. Another way to help us is to donate money to help us cover our costs. To donate, click here.. For details, please contact the project’s editors by electronic mail at editor@benyehuda.org.

Does access to the site require payment?

No. The works are free for any person’s use. We do ask that you aid us in spreading the word about the project, for example by citing the site’s address in your academic papers if you obtain copies of texts from it. If you have any further questions, please contact us via: editor@benyehuda.org.