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A shopping list for Shavuot

T-S NS J437
T-S NS J437
Melonie Schmierer-Lee
Fri 14 May 2021

The items in this shopping list reveal the careful planning and budgeting needed to celebrate the festival of Shavuot in style. First published by S.D. Goitein (Med. Soc IV, pp. 230-231), this fragment (T-S NS J437) dates to the 13th century, and may have been written by the court scribe Solomon b. Elijah. It includes (for Friday): little chickens, meat, a pound of fat tail, a hen, garden mallow, cubeb and garlic, two measures of sesame oil, eggplants; and (for Saturday): a lemon hen, chard, onions, safflower, and green lemons. The budget for these purchases was 10 dirhems – a significant portion of an official’s monthly income.


Thank you so much for this lovely little fragment. I like to use these in my classes, and always want to show the entire thing -- that way, they can comment on more than just the CONTENTS of the document, but also its physical properties.

Thanks for the feedback, Louisa, and it's great to hear that you use these fragments in your classes. For this particular fragment, the hyperlink on the shelfmark in the text takes you to the item on Cambridge Digital Library, with images of both sides of the fragment. Not all (or even most) of the Cambridge Genizah fragments are on the Digital Library yet, but this one is. The verso of the fragment is in Arabic script. One of my colleagues has had a look at it, and it's a list of names and numerals (probably accounts or pledges). The names include al-bazzāz (the draper), Abū Naṣr/Naṣīr, Mūsā Abū Muḥammad al-Farīq, Abū l-Ḥasan b. […] al-Ḥabāb, Sulaymān, and Abū l-Ḵayr Yamīn.

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