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Cambridge University Library


For a thousand years the Jewish community of Old Cairo put their worn-out writings into a synagogue storage room, a genizah. This remarkable collection has survived and is now one of the treasures of Cambridge University Library. It provides a window on the life of a Jewish community, one thousand years ago, sitting at the centre of a thriving Islamic empire. Women are conspicuously absent from many historical records, but the Cairo Genizah has preserved hundreds of documents that illuminate women’s lives and experiences. For the last forty years, Genizah scholars have worked to reconstruct the hidden “World of Women” in Mediterranean Jewish communities. It is time to review this material and the progress made in understanding it.

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.


Renée Levine Melammed is  Professor of Jewish history at the Schechter Institute, teaching courses in medieval Jewish history and gender studies as well as in Jews of Spain and Islamic lands. Her research now focuses on women’s lives as reflected in the Cairo Genizah, and her early research dealt with the lives of crypto-Jewish women in Spain and the way in which conversos coped with the issue of their identity.

Free event, booking required: click here to book.


Event speaker: 
Professor Renée Levine Melammed
Milstein Seminar Rooms
Wednesday, 17 October, 2018
Booking required