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Genizah Fragments

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Nehemia Gordon on Wed 13 Apr 2022

Nehemia, what are you working on today?

I’m a visiting scientist at the BAM Institute in Berlin (the Federal Institute for Research and Testing). One of the techniques they’ve developed is the use of a handheld device to distinguish between carbon and iron gall ink – the Dino-Lite. So, I’ve come to Cambridge University Library to look at a large number of Genizah Bible fragments – Torah scrolls, though not only – and I’m looking to see what the ink is: iron gall or carbon.

Are you hoping to tell from this when or where the manuscripts were written?... Read More

Has tags: Bible, codex, Firkovich, Genizah Fragments, ink, Karaite, Q&A, scribe, scroll, vocalisation

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Tue 8 Mar 2022

In the Middle Ages, just like today, women face particular challenges when war arrives on their doorstep, and the Genizah has preserved unique testaments to the experiences of some of these women. Many, of course, found themselves refugees, arriving in a new city and dependent either on family or on the generosity of the local Jewish community. Women’s appeals to the community and the charitable disbursements made from public funds are perhaps where the plights of women fleeing war are most visible in the Genizah. That may be due to the circumstantial survival of documentation of this... Read More

Has tags: charity, Genizah Fragments, refugees, Women

 

By Ben Outhwaite on Wed 2 Mar 2022

The newly published article in the Journal of Semitic Studies by Dr Kim Phillips, ‘T-S A43.1+ and the Imitation of the Tiberian Reading Tradition’, is a significant piece of research whose title belies its potentially far-reaching repercussions for our understanding of the relationship between the Tiberian and the Palestinian (‘Eretz-Yisraeli’) reading traditions and their systems of vocalisation.

Kim’s article is just one of several that have been or soon will be published from his four-year Rothschild Foundation for Higher Education-funded... Read More

Has tags: article, Genizah Fragments, serugin, vocalisation

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Wed 23 Feb 2022

As the eyes of the world turn to Ukraine, let’s take a look at the so-called ‘Kiev letter’ – a document that has been interpreted by many scholars as proof of the existence of a Jewish community in the Middle Ages in Khazaria (in what is now Ukraine). This 10th-century letter of introduction, written on a tightly folded piece of parchment, accredits Jacob son of Hanukkah in his efforts to raise money to free himself of debt. Jacob – described as generous and of a good family – fell into difficulties when his brother borrowed money from gentiles and was then robbed and slain by brigands.... Read More

Has tags: charity, Genizah Fragments, Kiev

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Estara Arrant on Wed 16 Feb 2022

Estara, you finished your PhD in 2021 on ‘common’ Bibles in the Cairo Genizah. How did you get interested in this area?

It's a long story but I'll give you the highlights here. I have been interested in Hebrew codicology and palaeography, and Jewish-Muslim relations as seen in the Genizah since my undergraduate studies (in History and Modern Hebrew). I became particularly interested in Hebrew-Arabic-Aramaic language contact during my Master’s degree (in Islamic Studies and History), and in the development and codification of Jewish and Islamic scriptures during the... Read More

Has tags: Bible, Genizah Fragments, palaeography, Q&A

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 10 Feb 2022

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 68 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in October 2014, by Blanca Villuendas Sabaté:

Although Genizah manuscripts are regarded as one of the most relevant sources for social history, divinatory fragments have often been overlooked. They mirror the innermost worries, hopes and fears of the users, thus offering a unique insight to the Genizah society. Medieval peoples’ desire to know about the future was no less intense than... Read More

Has tags: divination, Genizah Fragments, geomancy, magic

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Nick Posegay on Wed 9 Feb 2022

Nick, you’ve just finished working on a project examining different types of paper in the Genizah. Can you tell us about the project and about your role in it?

My work was part of a larger project called “Thinking Paper” that is led by Dr. Suzanne Paul here in the library and Dr. Orietta Da Rold in the Cambridge Faculty of English. The goal of the project is to understand the transition from parchment to paper usage in late medieval manuscript... Read More

Has tags: Genizah Fragments, paper, Q&A

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Amir Ashur on Wed 2 Feb 2022

Amir, you made an exciting discovery last week. Can you tell us about it?

Yes! I'm describing some documents at the moment for the Princeton Geniza Project, and while going through some of the manuscripts of the Jewish Theological Seminary I encountered two fragments containing a long piyyut.

There are tens of thousands of these piyyutim – liturgical poems – in the Genizah, and they’re not your area of research. Why did this one catch your eye?

It was written by a hand very familiar to me. It was the handwriting of Halfon b. Nathaniel... Read More

Has tags: al-Andalus, Genizah Fragments, Jewish Theological Seminary, Judah ha-Levi, poetry, Q&A

 

By Nadia Vidro on Mon 31 Jan 2022

Diversity and Rabbinization: Jewish Texts and Societies between 400 and 1000 CE ● Edited by Gavin McDowell, Ron Naiweld and Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra ● Open Book Publishers, 2021

The vast majority of Jews whose records are preserved in the Cairo Genizah were rabbinic. They derived their legal and theological systems primarily from rabbinic literature such as the Mishnah and the Talmuds and saw rabbinic leaders as the main authority. The only non-rabbinic group reflected in Genizah documents... Read More

Has tags: Book, Genizah Fragments, Karaite, Rabbanite

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Malachi Beit-Arié on Wed 26 Jan 2022

Malachi, your book Hebrew Codicology is a classic of the field, and you've recently completed the most up to date version yet. Will the latest Hebrew and English versions be the final versions of the book?

Yes. The Hebrew and English versions, published by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, are now final. They are distributed by Hamburg University with the Open Access DOIs: https://doi.org/10.25592/uhhfdm.8848 (Hebrew) and... Read More

Has tags: codex, Genizah Fragments, Hebrew, palaeography, Q&A