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By Ben Outhwaite on Tue 7 Feb 2023

In December 1033 CE – late afternoon on the 12th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet – a terrible earthquake shook Palestine. Across the region, cities were levelled and a tsunami wave arrived on the Mediterranean coast. The events of that day and its aftermath reached Egypt soon afterwards in a letter written by the scribe Solomon ben Ṣemaḥ. The letter, T-S 18J3.9, can be seen on Cambridge Digital Library with... Read More

Has tags: earthquake, Fatimid, Genizah Fragments, letter, Ramla, scribe


By Sarah Bunin Benor and Abby Graham on Wed 2 Nov 2022

Historically, most well-known documents in Jewish languages have been penned by men. However, Jewish women have also recorded their voices in writing and in song. At the Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) Jewish Language Project, we searched for Jewish women’s voices throughout history. We found documents and recordings in twenty languages (some with multiple dialects) from the tenth century to the present, including letters, poetry, memoirs, lullabies, translations of religious texts, and more. To give a sense of the chronological, geographic, and linguistic... Read More

Has tags: Dunash b. Labrat, Genizah Fragments, language, letter, widow, Women


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Lorenzo Bondioli on Wed 3 Nov 2021

Lorenzo, what are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been spending some time on T-S 10J12.26, a business letter from the prominent Genizah merchant Nahray b. Nissim, writing from Fusṭāṭ to his associate Barhūn b. Mūsā ’l-Tāhartī, who was out in the Egyptian hinterland (specifically in the town of Būṣīr). This document has been edited and discussed by Genizah scholars, starting from Goitein himself, but I still could not quite wrap my mind around it. What is so interesting about... Read More

Has tags: Fatimid, Genizah Fragments, Goitein, letter, Q&A, trade


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee, Haru Shimada, and Amir Ashur on Wed 27 Oct 2021

Haru, what are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on T-S 8.12. It is a letter between two traders, and reveals much about the activities of the merchants at this time, in particular their trading networks and how these functioned. I’m looking at this manuscript because in November I will be giving an introductory lecture to my students, and this letter offers a good example of the kinds of trader letter we find in the Genizah.

How many students do you have?... Read More

Has tags: Genizah Fragments, Japan, letter, Q&A, trade


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 21 Oct 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 58 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in October 2009, by Esther-Miriam Wagner.

Although the amount of Yiddish material in the Cambridge Genizah collections is very small in comparison with that written in Judaeo-Arabic, Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic or even Ladino, the few existing fragments are rather extraordinary.
The most important literary example is the 14th-century Dukus Horant, a narrative... Read More

Has tags: Genizah Fragments, letter, Yiddish


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 7 Oct 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 42 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in October 2001, by Ben Outhwaite.

“Many times have we written to our distinguished one, beloved of the academy, and our heart was preoccupied with the lateness of his replies until it became clear to us that the ‘godless congregation’ had been taking them.” So writes the scholar Nathan ben Abraham to a supporter during his protracted struggle to take control of the Yeshivat Ha-Sevi – the... Read More

Has tags: Arabic, Genizah Fragments, Hebrew, language, letter