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Cambridge University Library

Schechter Day 2022: A cutting accusation

T-S 8.91
T-S 8.91 (recto)
Melonie Schmierer-Lee
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 accusations began to fly. Jenkinson writes, “When I got to the Library, I found Schechter had been making a row and declaring someone had cut one of his fragments. (It had been folded, and then snipped so as to leave diamond-shaped holes) Luckily I had noticed it before, and had in fact myself put it on his table; so I was able to give him a good setting down for his impertinence and violence.” The snipped fragment in question may have been T-S 8.91, a piece of a marriage contract written by the 13th century scribe Emmanuel b. Yehiel and later reused for practising the Hebrew alphabet (it may have also been snipped by this second hand). It’s part of the ‘Glass’ or ‘Old Series’ in the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection – the first manuscripts to be sorted, numbered, put under glass, and catalogued. To read more about the relationship between Schechter and Jenkinson – men from very different backgrounds but colleagues for 12 years and friends for more – see Stefan C. Reif’s article “Jenkinson and Schechter at Cambridge: an expanded and updated assessment”.

Happy Schechter Day to all – may your accusations only ever be founded and your manuscripts unsnipped! 


Looks like they were cut for filing in a 10th-century Filofax.
You describe a moment it is easy to associate with - on both sides!

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