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T-S A3.35
Detail of a page from a Great Bible codex written by Samuel b. Jacob, showing his distinctive :◦: siglum at the end of masoretic notes (T-S A3.35).
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 23 Jun 2022

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 75 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in April 2018, by  the Genizah Research Unit's very own Kim Phillips.

During the first wave of Caliph al-Hakim’s intolerance towards the People of the Book, a Fustat-based scribe – Samuel ben Jacob – completed his labours on a high quality Bible codex (circa 1008–1009). No doubt he was satisfied with his work: the codex contains all twenty-four biblical books, accurately and ornately...

Has tags: Bible, codex, Genizah Fragments, scribe


T-S NS J479
T-S NS J479 (recto, inverted)
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Alan Elbaum on Wed 22 Jun 2022

Alan, which fragment are you looking at today?

My job description at the Princeton Geniza Project is to look at uncatalogued or minimally catalogued documentary fragments, and while looking for these I came across T-S NS J479, a single page covered with strange symbols written in all directions. I’ve probably glanced at around 50,000 Genizah fragments by now, and I’ve never seen anything that looks like this.

What is it? Which language is it?

Most of it is written in what I think is a made-up code, though whether it was invented or...


Has tags: Arabic, cipher, Genizah Fragments, poetry, Q&A, Sufism


L-G Misc. 104
L-G Misc. 104: calendar covering the dates 967/8–970/71 CE.
By Ben Outhwaite on Fri 10 Jun 2022

A timeline of medieval calendar booklets from the Taylor-Schechter Genizah collection is now available on the website of the Genizah Research Unit, put together by Nadia Vidro. It is hoped that this timeline will serve as a tool for palaeographic analysis of manuscripts in the collection.


Composite image...


Has tags: calendar, Genizah Fragments, palaeography, resource


T-S NS 298.73B
T-S NS 298.73B (verso): part of a sixteenth-century calendar, printed in Strassburg, with a list of Christian saints and martyrs
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 9 Jun 2022

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 46 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in October 2003, by Bill Rebiger (then Research Assistant at the Institut für Judaistik, Freie Universität Berlin):

An intriguing phenomenon is the existence of non-Jewish fragments among the material from the Cairo Genizah. One such example at Cambridge University Library bears the classmark T-S NS 298.73. The fragment consists of...

Has tags: Ashkenaz, Christian, Genizah Fragments, printed


Detail from CUL Or. 1080.13
Detail from CUL Or.
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Wed 8 Jun 2022

The first Genizah fragments came to Cambridge University Library in the early 1890s, offered for sale as bundled job-lots of manuscripts sent from Jerusalem by the Hungarian rabbi and dealer in rare books, Rabbi Solomon Aaron Wertheimer. Some were purchased by Cambridge University Library, but others failed to generate much interest. Plaintive letters from Wertheimer asking for payment or the return of the offered manuscripts are preserved in the Library archives. His postcard from April 1893 ‘to the University Library’ requests payment or return of 13 manuscripts, as well as payment for a...


Has tags: Francis Jenkinson, Genizah Fragments, Solomon Schechter, Solomon Wertheimer


T-S K9.14
T-S K9.14 (recto): leaf from a masoretic work on accents.
By Kim Phillips on Mon 30 May 2022

Aron Dotan (b. 12th January 1928, Stuttgart)—one of the giants of 20th century Hebrew Linguistics and Masoretic Studies—passed away on 27th May 2022.

Dotan arrived in Israel at the age of five, when his parents made aliyyah to escape the evils of Nazi Germany. He went on to study Hebrew Language and Literature, and Semitic Linguistics, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and thereafter taught Hebrew Studies and Semitics at the universities of Tel-Aviv and Bar-Ilan, with great distinction.

In the 1950s Dotan was part of the Hebrew Language Committee (originally set...


Has tags: Genizah Fragments, masora


T-S AS 198.194
T-S AS 198.194, a decorative wall hanging depicting famous sites in the Holy Land, printed by Isaac Gashtsinni in Jerusalem between 1872 and 1897.
By Nick Posegay on Fri 27 May 2022

The Cairo Genizah is famous as a source for the study of medieval Jewish history, and that is mainly what we focus on in our work at the Genizah Research Unit. However, Egyptian Jews continued to produce and consume textual media all the way up to the Genizah’s “discovery” in 1896 (and beyond). As a result, Genizah collections also contain hundreds of manuscripts produced during the 19th century, written even as Oxbridge scholars sought to move them from Egypt to England. Among these are Arabic textbooks, Ladino novels, French wedding invitations, Yiddish newspapers, and Viennese Bibles....


Has tags: article, Genizah Fragments, Ottoman, printed


T-S 8.91
T-S 8.91 (recto)
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Fri 13 May 2022

It's 13th May and Schechter Day: the anniversary of the identification of this fragment of Ben Sira on 13th May 1896, setting Solomon Schechter on course for Cairo. The rest, as they say, is history. Today we'll take a look at events in Cambridge a year later. 

The diaries of Francis Jenkinson, University Librarian 1889–1923, capture moments of chaos and drama in the early years of the Genizah in Cambridge. On 15th May 1897, only weeks into work on the fragments in Cambridge, tempers were short and...


Has tags: Francis Jenkinson, Genizah Fragments, Solomon Schechter, Stefan Reif


T-S K6.15
Detail from T-S K6.15. Yes, probably a hanukkiah rather than a birthday cake, but celebratory nonetheless.
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 5 May 2022

It’s 5th May 2022 and the Genizah Fragments blog is one year old! In the past 12 months we’ve had exactly 100 posts, including 37 interviews with researchers and 8 book announcements and reviews. Almost 22,000 page views later, let’s take a look at what people enjoyed reading. The blog post with the most views was by Shulamit Elizur, on children’s education, and the interview with...


Has tags: Genizah Fragments


T-S Misc. 24.137.3
T-S Misc. 24.137.3 P2 (recto): A scribal note at the end of the book states that it was checked against the Taj.
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Neriah Klein on Wed 27 Apr 2022

Neriah, what are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on several projects at the moment. I have a position at the Hebrew University Bible Project (HUBP), where I’m preparing the apparatus of textual variations found in Medieval Hebrew manuscripts of the book of Joshua. I’m also working with Prof. Yosef Ofer on the manuscript Sassoon 1053, making an edition of the Masora magna of the manuscript, as well as working on a book based on my PhD on Chronicles, and an article about leprosy in Leviticus.

You recently published an...


Has tags: Bible, codex, Genizah Fragments, masora, Q&A, vocalisation


T-S H2.152
T-S H2.152: Passover Haggadah with a Fifth Question.
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 14 Apr 2022

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 55 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in April 2008, by Stefan C. Reif, Emeritus Professor of Medieval Hebrew at the University of Cambridge, and founder of the Genizah Research Unit:

At this time of the year, most Jewish families celebrate the first evening of Passover by recalling the biblical story of their ancestors’ exodus from Egypt at a domestic service called the seder (“order”), by way of a narrative...

Has tags: Genizah Fragments, liturgy, Passover, Saadiah Gaon


T-S NS 3.25
Detail of T-S NS 3.25, a scroll reused for writing practice.
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?...


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


L-G Misc. 35
L-G Misc. 35 (recto): letter from a woman refugee in Tripoli, ca, 1070s.
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...


Has tags: charity, Genizah Fragments, refugees, Women


T-S A43.1
T-S A43.1 (f. 1r): a shorthand serugin Bible.
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...


Has tags: article, Genizah Fragments, serugin, vocalisation


Detail of T-S 12.122 with multispectral imaging
Detail of T-S 12.122 with multispectral imaging
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....


Has tags: charity, Genizah Fragments, Kiev


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