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The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit

The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit presents

Genizah Conference 2007

an international conference in honour of Professor Stefan Reif

20—22 August 2007

Westminster College, Cambridge
Cambridge University Library

The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection at Cambridge University Library is the most important collection of medieval Jewish manuscripts in the world, containing approximately 200,000 leaves.

This conference will bring together many of the best scholars engaged in Genizah research from around the world to celebrate the achievements of Professor Stefan C. Reif, who retired last year after 33 years as Director of the Genizah Research Unit.

During this time Prof. Reif instigated an unprecedented programme of preservation, cataloguing and research, and published over 10 books and 300 articles.

This international conference will be held at Westminster College, and the University Library.

Westminster College has been chosen because of its historic connections with the Genizah, through its two benefactors, the Scottish twins, Mrs Agnes Lewis and Mrs Margaret Gibson. This remarkable pair of scholars, whose imposing portraits have place of honour in the College hall, were instrumental in bringing the Genizah manuscripts to Cambridge, and their own collection of some two thousand fragments is housed in the College library.

Conference timetable (PDF)


Monday 20th August

2.00 pm Welcome and refreshments

Session One (Ben Outhwaite, chair)

2.30 pm Haggai Ben-Shammai (Hebrew University)
Is “the Cairo Genizah” a proper name or a generic noun? On the relationship between the Genizot of the Ben Ezra and the Dar Simha Synagogues

3.00 pm Mordechai A. Friedman (Tel Aviv University)
Responding to a heretic: Judah ha-Levi on writing the Kuzari

3.30 pm Abraham David (JNUL)
The role of the Egyptian Jews in sixteenth-century trade: a chapter in social-economic integration in the Middle East

4.00 pm Coffee

Session Two (Siam Bhayro, chair)

4.30 pm Gideon Bohak (Tel Aviv University)
Towards a catalogue of the Genizah magical texts

5.00 pm Mark Cohen (Princeton University)
Maimonides’ Code in light of the Cairo Genizah documents

5.30 pm Shaul Shaked (Hebrew University)
The early Judaeo-Persian documents from the Genizah

6.30 pm Dinner

8.00 pm Stefan Reif (University of Cambridge)
Consigned to the Genizah, but for only a third of a century

Tuesday 21st August

8.00 am Breakfast

Session Three (Avihai Shivtiel, chair)

9.00 am Willem Smelik (UCL)
The mixed text/mixed language debate and the Aramaic Genizah fragments

9.30 am Friedrich Niessen (University of Cambridge)
Early Karaite grammatical thought as reflected in a commentary on Hosea

10.00 am Geoffrey Khan (University of Cambridge)
Judaeo-Arabic Genizah fragments with Tiberian vocalization

10.30 am Coffee

Session Four (Stefan Reif, chair)

11.00 am Michael Rand (JTS)
Compositional technique in Qillirian piyyutim for rain and dew

11.30 am Uri Ehrlich (Ben Gurion University)
Some remarks on the Siddur Rabbi Shelomo ben Nathan in light of the Genizah findings

12.00 noon Joseph Yahalom (Hebrew University)
Reconstructing ancient liturgical cycles according to Genizah (material

1.00 pm Lunch

Session Five (Stefan Reif, chair; in Morison Room, UL)

2.30 pm Rebecca Jefferson (University of Cambridge)
A Genizah secret

3.00 pm Ben Outhwaite (University of Cambridge)
The Jacques Mosseri Genizah Collection today

3.30pm Display of Mosseri fragments

6.30 pm Dinner

8.00 pm Moshe Gil (Tel Aviv University)
How Genizah documents serve in medieval historical research

Wednesday 22nd August

8.00 am Breakfast

Session Six (Geoffrey Khan chair)

9.00 am Avihai Shivtiel (University of Cambridge)
Genizah IOU — payment orders from Fustat

9.30 am Miriam Wagner (University of Cambridge)
The weakening of the bourgeoisie: social changes mirrored in the language of the Genizah letters

10.00 am Marina Rustow (Emory University)
What the Genizah has taught us about the shape of the medieval Jewish community

10.30 am Coffee

Session Seven (Friedrich Niessen, chair)

11.00 am Miriam Frenkel (Hebrew University)
Reading time: book culture in the Genizah society

11.30 am Phillip Lieberman (Princeton University)
Copy or likeness: scribal practice in 11th - 13th century Egypt

12.00 noon Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (Sorbonne)
A Hebrew-Hebrew palimpsest from the Genizah in the Bodleian

1.00 pm Lunch and departure

All sessions will take place in Westminster College, except Session Five, which will be held in the Morison Room, Cambridge University Library


Full board (arriving after lunch on Monday 20th August, departing after lunch on Wednesday 22nd August)
Standard Room £180
En-suite Room £200
Includes accommodation, all meals and conference fees. There are a limited number of rooms available, so please contact us early to avoid disappointment.

Bed and Breakfast
Standard Room per night £40
En-suite Room per night £50
Does not include other meals and conference fees; please see ‘non-resident delegate’ rates below. There are a limited number of rooms available, so please contact us early to avoid disappointment.

Non-resident delegate
Monday 20th with dinner £30 / without dinner £10
Tuesday 21st with dinner £60 / without dinner £40
Wednesday 22nd with lunch £25 / without lunch £10

Please let us have your booking details as soon as possible. Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements. Cheques should be made payable to “University of Cambridge”.

Non-resident delegates may wish to refer to the following web site for details of local Bed and Breakfast establishments:


Conference location:

Westminster College
Madingley Road

For more information and bookings, please contact:

Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit
Cambridge University Library
West Road
+ 44 1223 333 129

2007 Genizah Studies conference

From the 20th to the 22nd of August 2007 the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit will hold a conference on Genizah Studies. This conference will take place at Westminster College, Cambridge. Mrs Lewis and Mrs Gibson, who helped establish Westminster College, had a pivotal role in the transfer of Cairo Genizah manuscripts to Cambridge, and gave the College their collection of Genizah manuscripts.

The conference is being held in honour of Professor Stefan Reif, who completed thirty-three years of service to the University Library as Director of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit in 2006. His many years of devotion to Genizah Studies bore fruit in his publications, in the publications of the Genizah Unit, and in the publications of the many scholars whose work was enabled by Professor Reif's toil.

A range of scholars have been invited to speak at the conference, including both established scholars and recent recruits to Genizah studies. Their expertise spans the variety of subjects in the manuscripts. The proceedings of the conference will be published in various formats. More details on the conference will appear here as soon as they are available

If you have any questions, please email genizah@lib.cam.ac.uk
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©University of Cambridge; revised June 2007