A committee decided the aims of the encyclopedia in 1944. Printing of the first part began in 1948. This was the year that Israel became a country. The president of the encyclopedia project was also the President of Israel, Professor Chaim Weizmann. The first photograph in the encyclopaedia was of Israel's Declaration of Independence.
The introduction said:
... we will finish publishing all 16 volumes within five or six years...
The writing took more than thirty years. The encyclopedia had thirty-two volumes when it was finished. An Index (publishing)|index was not printed until 1985. In 1995 there were large updates of entries dealing with the State of Israel.
The supervisor was always Alexander Plai. Its editors were Joseph Klausner, Benzion Netanyahu, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Nathan Rotenstreich, Yehoshua Gutman, and Joshua Prawer. More than 2500 people wrote the encyclopedia.
Some people felt it was very important to be included in the encyclopedia. They would ask the editors to make sure they had an article about them. Other articles caused arguments e.g. Adolf Hitler.
The Schocken Publishing House has been working on a new edition of the encyclopedia.
The Encyclopaedia Hebraica said it was about "General, Jewish, and Israeli" ideas. The encyclopaedia covers all the general topics, but the articles were larger on Judaism, Jews, and Israel. The encyclopaedia includes the Jewishness of the person, even when it is not important.
Articles on countries and cities include their history and then a Jewish history. For places which were under Nazi rule an account is given of the Jewish people during the Holocaust.
The letter Aleph contains the largest number of articles. The longest article is "Land of Israel" which takes all of volume 6. Next in size is "United States of America". The large size of the aleph articles reflects the enthusiasm of the early editors. It became clear that the encyclopaedia would never come to an end. The plan was changed. The final size of the encyclopaedia was smaller than planned.
- [Biblical Figures Outside the Bible], Michael E. Stone, Theodore A. Bergren, 2003. Retrieved October 2009.
- ha-Entsiklopediyah ha-ʻivrit (Hebrew: האנצקלופדיה העברית) / Encyclopaedia Hebraica. (1949). Tel-Aviv: Encyclopaedia Publishing Company
- Yeshayahu Leibowitz, 91, Iconoclastic Israeli Thinker - New York Times
- Bracha Peli, Asher Weill, Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved October 2009. Archived 2010-02-01 at WebCite