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By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Amir Ashur on Wed 2 Feb 2022

Amir, you made an exciting discovery last week. Can you tell us about it?

Yes! I'm describing some documents at the moment for the Princeton Geniza Project, and while going through some of the manuscripts of the Jewish Theological Seminary I encountered two fragments containing a long piyyut.

There are tens of thousands of these piyyutim – liturgical poems – in the Genizah, and they’re not your area of research. Why did this one catch your eye?

It was written by a hand very familiar to me. It was the handwriting of Halfon b. Nathaniel... Read More

Has tags: al-Andalus, Genizah Fragments, Jewish Theological Seminary, Judah ha-Levi, poetry, Q&A


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Malachi Beit-Arié on Wed 26 Jan 2022

Malachi, your book Hebrew Codicology is a classic of the field, and you've recently completed the most up to date version yet. Will the latest Hebrew and English versions be the final versions of the book?

Yes. The Hebrew and English versions, published by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, are now final. They are distributed by Hamburg University with the Open Access DOIs: (Hebrew) and... Read More

Has tags: codex, Genizah Fragments, Hebrew, palaeography, Q&A


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Sacha Stern on Wed 19 Jan 2022

Sacha, what are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been looking at a fragment in T-S NS 98 – it's full of calendar texts. This one is T-S NS 98.51. It’s extremely damaged and fragmentary. We’ll probably never find the rest of it, and the missing bits are almost certainly lost.

It’s a parchment fragment and looks quite old. How old is it?

I’m not an expert, but palaeographically speaking it looks to be from around the year 1000.

What is... Read More

Has tags: calendar, Christian, Genizah Fragments, Q&A


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Rebecca Jefferson on Wed 22 Dec 2021

Rebecca, you have a new book coming out in February 2022. What’s it about, and how did you come to be interested in it?

The book, The Cairo Genizah and the Age of Discovery in Egypt: the History and Provenance of a Jewish Archive (I. B. Tauris, 2022), solely focuses on what we now call the ‘discovery of the Cairo Genizah’. It attempts to tell the provenance stories of the many other Genizah collections around the world whose stories have not been told as fully as that of Cambridge’s Taylor-Schechter collection. My interest in it began when I started working... Read More

Has tags: Adolf Neubauer, Bodleian, Count d'Hulst, David Kaufmann, Elkan Nathan Adler, Genizah Fragments, Greville Chester, Mordechai Adelmann, Moses Shapira, Mosseri, Q&A, Rabbi Ben-Shim'on, Samuel Raffalovich, Solomon Schechter, Solomon Wertheimer, Yemen


By Ben Outhwaite and Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Wed 8 Dec 2021

Mel, what are you working on today?

I’ve been reading through a folder of correspondence between Cambridge and the Jewish Theological Seminary covering quite a few decades in the 20th century. I can’t really call it work though – it’s more like snooping. The letters and other documentation are about 251 Genizah fragments which Schechter took with him to America in 1902, when he departed Cambridge to become President of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He wanted to continue working on the fragments, and Cambridge agreed to let him borrow them for a period of time.... Read More

Has tags: Genizah Fragments, Jewish Theological Seminary, Q&A, Solomon Schechter


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Gary Rendsburg on Wed 1 Dec 2021

Gary, you’ve recently created a website dedicated to the life of Obadiah/Johannes of Oppido and his conversion to Judaism in the Middle Ages. How did you become interested in the manuscripts associated with Obadiah?

I actually do not recall the specific moment, but I can tell you that several lines converged: a) as I began to read more and more about medieval history, especially in the light of new research, including by my colleague Paola Tartakoff, I realized that conversion from Judaism to Christianity... Read More

Has tags: conversion, Genizah Fragments, Karaite, Q&A


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Phil Lieberman on Wed 24 Nov 2021

Phil, what are you working on at the moment?

For the past decade I’ve been working with my Vanderbilt colleague Lenn Goodman – a philosopher and accomplished Judaeo-Arabist – on a new translation of the Guide for the Perplexed for Stanford University Press. We come from very different disciplinary approaches – he’s a philosopher and I’m a social historian – so we look at Maimonides in different ways. We’ve actually written different introductions to the book (I’m writing a historian... Read More

Has tags: Genizah Fragments, Moses Maimonides, Q&A


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Deborah Farndell on Wed 17 Nov 2021

In 2014, UL conservator Mary French was asked to examine a parchment fragment in the New Series which had been encapsulated with a small piece of parchment folded over and obscuring a word. When she opened the Melinex pocket she was perplexed to find that some areas of the parchment were translucent, sticky, and unexpectedly pliable. Concerned that it might mean there was a humidity issue in the manuscript storage room, Mary measured the relative humidity levels and found they were elevated in areas near to some air vents. These vents were capped, and in 2016, our Conservation and... Read More

Has tags: conservation, Genizah Fragments, parchment, Q&A, Targum


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Lorenzo Bondioli on Wed 3 Nov 2021

Lorenzo, what are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been spending some time on T-S 10J12.26, a business letter from the prominent Genizah merchant Nahray b. Nissim, writing from Fusṭāṭ to his associate Barhūn b. Mūsā ’l-Tāhartī, who was out in the Egyptian hinterland (specifically in the town of Būṣīr). This document has been edited and discussed by Genizah scholars, starting from Goitein himself, but I still could not quite wrap my mind around it. What is so interesting about... Read More

Has tags: Fatimid, Genizah Fragments, Goitein, letter, Q&A, trade


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee, Haru Shimada, and Amir Ashur on Wed 27 Oct 2021

Haru, what are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on T-S 8.12. It is a letter between two traders, and reveals much about the activities of the merchants at this time, in particular their trading networks and how these functioned. I’m looking at this manuscript because in November I will be giving an introductory lecture to my students, and this letter offers a good example of the kinds of trader letter we find in the Genizah.

How many students do you have?... Read More

Has tags: Genizah Fragments, Japan, letter, Q&A, trade