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Cambridge University Library

‘Found in one of the Genizas of old Egypt’

Detail from CUL Or. 1080.13
Detail from CUL Or. 1080.13.vi.
Author: 
Melonie Schmierer-Lee
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 copy of his own self-published book (Darke Shel Torah), and when this failed to achieve results Wertheimer wrote a second note on 8th June, directing his pleas to Francis Jenkinson, the University Librarian, along with further manuscripts for consideration. In both, Wertheimer mentions an ancient scroll of the Torah that he had acquired from the genizah of an ancient synagogue in Cairo. When Schechter identified the fragment of Ben Sira among the purchases of Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson in 1896, he recognised it had probably come from the same source as Wertheimer’s manuscripts.

CUL Add.8398/12:

Jerusalem 

April 1893

To the University Library

Cambridge
I beg to inform you that on the 29th February/93 I sent you per post registered as per your kind request (13) thirteen papers manuscripts, and the price of which I have quoted (£6”3Sh) Six Pounds and three Shillings only. I am sorry to say as yet I didn’t receive them and so I shall be highly obliged if you will kindly send me the said sum or return me the same papers, per post registered, should you not require them as written to me by Dr Schechter in his kind note. I shall thank Dr Schechter in sending me the price (2Sh) Two Shillings for my work sent to him. I also come to let you know that an ancient ‘Sefer Tora’ found in one of the ‘Geniza’ of Cairo (Egypt) written on leather of Roebuck ‘צבי’ should you require, let me know soon.
Yours ffly,

S. Wertheimer

CUL Or. 1080.13.vi:

Jerusalem

8th June 1893

Francis Jenkinson Esq.

Univ. Library

Cambridge
I herewith send you (30) Thirty MSS the cost of which is only (3) three pounds Sterling. Please send the amount the 3£ with my last a/c, the balance of which is £6 3 Shillings only in one cheque, of £1 one the price of (3) MSS no. 1/2/3 which I also send you now, to another cheque. Please remember me to Dr Schechter. I hope he is well, please remind him for the (2) two Shillings price of my book to favour me with. I have also with me a very ancient Sefer-Tora written on Kelaf Roebuck & is found in one of the Genizas of old Egypt & is quite old. Awaiting an early reply which will greatly oblige.
Yours faithfully

S.A. Wertheimer

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