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The Institute initiates and conducts research on questions related to the worldwide Jewish press and communication in the past and present, as well as to the Israeli media and their impact on social, political and cultural developments in Israel. Special emphasis is given to the role of the Jewish media in the rise of modernity, and to the contribution of editors, journalists, and publishers in that process.

The Institute was founded in 1985 and was directed during its first decade by Shalom Rosenfeld, co-founder and former editor in chief of the Israeli daily "Ma'ariv", recipient of the Itzik Manger prize for the promotion of creative writing and research in Yiddish, the Sokolow Prize for Journalism, the Israel Prize (1985) and Ph.D. Honoris Causa from the Weizmann Institute of Science. Since 1998 the Institute is directed by Professor Michael Keren.