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Article: Searching for the Last Genizah Fragment in Late Ottoman Cairo

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.
Author: 
Nick Posegay
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.

This new article in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, titled “Searching for the Last Genizah Fragment in Late Ottoman Cairo,” examines these late Genizah manuscripts to show that much more is extant than previously thought. The fragments can be used to study Ottoman and Jewish history at the same time that nineteenth-century scholars were hunting for Genizah manuscripts in Cairo. In the end, it asks a question that modern researchers rarely think about: What was the last item to make its way into the Cairo Genizah?

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