JPS Bible Translation Enters Digital Era with Sefaria

May 11, 2017

 The 1985 Jewish Publication Society (JPS) Tanakh translation, a celebrated American-Jewish resource, is now available online thanks to Sefaria, a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering open, participatory Jewish learning for the digital era.

Since June 2016, the translation has been the default choice on the popular site, which calls itself “a free, living library of Jewish texts.” Users who click to view any biblical verse in English will automatically access the JPS translation of the verse. See, for example, this verse from Genesis.

The 1985 Jewish Publication Society (JPS) Tanakh translation is also available on Sefaria’s iOS and Android apps and can be used in Sefaria’s popular source sheet builder, which educators have used more than 50,000 times since its launch in 2013.

JPS and Sefaria have also partnered to release Sefer Haikarim — “Book of Principles,” a 15th century work by Rabbi Joseph Albo – with a free and open license. Sefaria’s library also contains the multi-volume Legends of the Jews, a classic by Louis Ginsberg which spanned a 30 year period from 1909-1939.

Sefaria made the decision to use the JPS Tanakh translation in response to requests for a modern English-language version. Although the group generally prefers to include texts that are free for use and reuse, the JPS Tanakh translations are only free for use on Sefaria.

Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz, director of JPS, welcomed the partnership with Sefaria: “We at JPS are excited to support the important work of Sefaria in making Jewish classics available to all, even while negotiating the frontier of open access vs. intellectual property and copyright issues.”