skip to content

Cambridge University Library

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Nick Posegay on Wed 9 Feb 2022

Nick, you’ve just finished working on a project examining different types of paper in the Genizah. Can you tell us about the project and about your role in it?

My work was part of a larger project called “Thinking Paper” that is led by Dr. Suzanne Paul here in the library and Dr. Orietta Da Rold in the Cambridge Faculty of English. The goal of the project is to understand the transition from parchment to paper usage in late medieval manuscript... Read More

Has tags: Genizah Fragments, paper, Q&A


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 Nadia Vidro on Mon 31 Jan 2022

Diversity and Rabbinization: Jewish Texts and Societies between 400 and 1000 CE ● Edited by Gavin McDowell, Ron Naiweld and Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra ● Open Book Publishers, 2021

The vast majority of Jews whose records are preserved in the Cairo Genizah were rabbinic. They derived their legal and theological systems primarily from rabbinic literature such as the Mishnah and the Talmuds and saw rabbinic leaders as the main authority. The only non-rabbinic group reflected in Genizah documents... Read More

Has tags: Book, Genizah Fragments, Karaite, Rabbanite


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 Shulamit Elizur on Tue 18 Jan 2022

How was writing in Hebrew practised in the Middle Ages? A glance at the discoveries from the Cairo Genizah supplies the answer and also reveals that little has changed over the years.

How do children practise writing the alphabet? By writing each new letter, one at a time, over and over again, of course. This is common practice today and it was common practice back in the Middle Ages. There are several pages preserved in the Cairo Genizah that contain these kinds of children’s writing exercises, from about a thousand years ago.

... Read More

Has tags: education, Genizah Fragments


By Ben Outhwaite on Fri 14 Jan 2022

Thabit ibn Qurra On Talismans and Ps.-Ptolemy On Images 1-9. Together with the Liber prestigiorum Thebidis of Adelard of Bath ● By Gideon Bohak and Charles Burnett ● Sismel, 2021

Not everyone can claim to have looked at every single item in the Taylor-Schechter Collection. Even after a quarter of a century working on the Genizah, I’m not sure I’ve... Read More

Has tags: Book, Genizah Fragments, magic


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 13 Jan 2022

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 27 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in April 1994, by Uwe Glessmer of the University of Hamburg:

With Heinz Fahr, I have published an edition of T-S B13.12, entitled Jordandurchzug und Beschneidung als Zurechtweisung in einem Targum zu Josua 5, which appears as No. 3 in the Orientalia Biblica et Christiana series published by J. J. Augustin (Glückstadt, 1991).
The manuscript T-S B13.... Read More

Has tags: Bible, circumcision, Genizah Fragments, Targum


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Wed 12 Jan 2022

125 years ago today, Solomon Schechter sat down to write this letter to his colleague and friend Francis Jenkinson, the University Librarian. Three weeks ago he had arrived in Egypt, made the acquaintance of Chief Rabbi Ben Shim'on, and started to delve into the contents of the Ben Ezra Synagogue's genizah. Schechter writes to Jenkinson describing his work in the dusty, insect-infested chamber and his dealings with the local men who were assisting him ('I have constantly to bakeshish them'). Interestingly, he first mentions working on 'the Genizas' (plural), before then describing 'the... Read More

Has tags: Francis Jenkinson, Genizah Fragments, Solomon Schechter


By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Fri 7 Jan 2022

Points of Contact: The Shared Intellectual History of Vocalisation in Syriac, Arabic, and Hebrew ● By Nick Posegay ● Open Book Publishers, 2021

This book is the newest entry in the Cambridge Semitic Languages and Cultures series, and it is authored by the Genizah Research Unit's very own Nick Posegay. It investigates the shared history of ideas behind the vocalisation systems of three medieval Semitic languages, examining the work of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars as they developed ways to... Read More

Has tags: Arabic, Bible, Book, Genizah Fragments, grammar, masora, Qurʾan, Syriac, vocalisation


Follow the blog