MEKIẒE NIRDAMIM (Heb. מְקִיצֵי נִרְדָּמִים; "rousers of those who slumber"), the first society for the publication of medieval Hebrew literature in every branch of intellectual activity, in scholarly editions. The aim of the society was both to propagate a knowledge of Jewish scholarship and to establish personal contact between scholars. The structure of the society – which still continues – provided for a board of directors, consisting of the best qualified scholars in their field, and annual subscriptions from members. The Mekiẓe Nirdamim was founded in 1862 by E.L. Silbermann in Lyck, founder-editor of the first Hebrew weekly *Ha-Maggid, with the cooperation of Chief Rabbi Nathan M. *Adler (London), M. *Sachs (Berlin), and S.D. *Luzzatto. There was a certain amount of opposition – for a variety of reasons – which included a lack of faith in the possibility of the renaissance of Jewish culture, an opposition to the publication of non-rabbinic texts, and an opposition in principle to the exclusive use of Hebrew, which was established as a rule by the society, and/or an opposition to its founders by such scholars as A. *Geiger and M. *Steinschneider. Support was found, however, among Polish and Russian scholars and even in rabbis such as Samuel and Mattityahu *Straschun, S. *Ganzfried, and M.L. *Malbim, and by 1864 the number of subscribers, from a great many countries, stood at 1,200. In the same year the first four publications were issued, among them the first installment of S.D. Luzzatto's edition of Judah Halevi's Diwan. The adherence of Moses *Montefiore in 1865 brought with it the support of many who had been aloof. After a decade's activity, there was a pause until, in 1885, the society resumed its work in Berlin, guided by A. *Berliner, A. *Harkavy, and others. It was then that the series Kobeẓ al Jad was initiated (26 volumes by 1970), devoted to the publication of smaller manuscripts and documents. In 1934 the seat of the Mekiẓe Nirdamim was transferred to Jerusalem. By 1970, 110 works had been issued. S.Y. *Agnon served as president of the society (1954–70), and was succeeded by Gershom *Scholem. Very distinguished scholars, such as Y. Baer, Ḥ. Schirmann, E. Urbach, etc., served as members of the executive committee. Sh. Abramson and E. Fleischer continued the publication of important books on Hebrew medieval literature in the last decades of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st with such books as Eleazar ha-Bavli's Diwan (ed. H. Brody, 1971), Responsa and Decisions of the Sages of Germany and France (ed. E. Kupfer, 1973), Moses Ibn Ezra's Kitāb al-Muḥāḍara wal-Mudhākara (ed. A.S. Halkin, 1975), Midrash Bereshit Rabbati (ed. Ch. Albeck, 1984), Rabbi Jehudah berabbi Benjaminis Carmina Cuncta (ed. Sh. Elizur, 1988), Teshuvotha-Rambam (ed. J. Blau, 1989), Pinkas Kehillat Shnaitakh (ed. M. Hildshaimer, 1992), Perush Kadum le-Midrash Va-Yikra Rabbah (ed. M.B. Lerner, 1995), and Ma'aseh Nisim: Perushla-Torah (ed. Ḥ. Kraisel, 2000).
Ḥevrat Mekiẓe Nirdamim: 1864–1964 (1964), includes complete bibliography of books published by the society.
[Israel Moses Ta-Shma]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.