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Cambridge University Library

"We offer you our thanks": Cambridge's letter to Egypt's Jewish community

Letter of thanks
Cambridge's letter of thanks in Hebrew.
Author: 
Melonie Schmierer-Lee
Wed 15 Dec 2021

On 15 December, 1898, the official thanks of the University of Cambridge for the gift of the Genizah Collection were conveyed to the Jewish community of Cairo by the University Orator in the Senate House. The original text was in Latin, but a Hebrew version was prepared and sent to Cairo with the original. An English edition then appeared in the Jewish Chronicle of 30 December, 1898.

To the Heads of the Jewish Community in Cairo:
We offer you our thanks, not only on account of the singular goodwill with which you received our Reader in Rabbinic, but also on account of the conspicuous liberality with which you permitted him to return to us laden with so many fragments of books from your Treasury.
In the faithful preservation of books, the saying, "the written word remains", seems to have been as a law to you. On account of this law so long observed by you, your sanctuary, called by the name of the greatest of the scribes, the sanctuary which has been celebrated for more than a thousand years on the shore of the Nile, remains, and will long remain famous.
But your congregation regards with reverence the still older words of the prophet [Isaiah 19:19–20], "In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar of the border thereof to the Lord, and it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of Hosts in the land of Egypt."
Therefore for your generosity to us, in the midst of the land of Egypt may your people be blessed for ages. Is it not also written in the Proverbs of the Wise King [Proverbs 11:24]: "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth"?
By the generous gift of your ancient books to our envoy you have not only increased your own ancient renown but have even made a considerable addition to the history of your ancient literature.
Even from our islands so far to the West, some light will doubtless be shed upon your literature, whereof, in memory of its ancient glory, we joyfully confess that day cometh from the East [Psalms 113:2–3]: "Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore; from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same praised be the name of the Lord."

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Thank you for publishing this--interesting

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