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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 on Wed 17 Nov 2021

The Israel Museum’s new exhibition, Hear, O Israel, The Magic of the Shema, explores the complex relationship between ‘religion’ and ‘magic’ in the story of the Shema – a text recited by Jews since time immemorial. The exhibition brings together artefacts from Qumran tefillin to Babylonian magic bowls, with protective incantations covering all eventualities and amulets of all descriptions. The exhibition is accompanied by a handsome, hardcover exhibition guide that is both scholarly and... Read More

Has tags: exhibition, Genizah Fragments, magic

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 4 Nov 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 60 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in October 2010, by Ronny Vollandt:

The installation of a Hebrew press at Constantinople in 1503 by David b. Nahmias ushered in a period of prosperity for Jewish printing in the Ottoman Empire. Gershom Soncino, head of the Soncino family and universally acknowledged towering figure of five centuries of Hebrew printing, followed in 1530 and established his Jewish publishing house in... Read More

Has tags: Bible, Genizah Fragments, printed, 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 on Thu 28 Oct 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issues 5 and 6 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in April and October 1983, by Paul Fenton, with a response in the next issue by S.D. Goitein:

An exciting discovery recently made in the Unit may well open a new chapter in the history of Hebrew printing. Dr Paul Fenton has dated a Hebrew print in the Genizah Collection (... Read More

Has tags: Genizah Fragments, Goitein, mamluk, printed

 

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

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 21 Oct 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 58 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in October 2009, by Esther-Miriam Wagner.

Although the amount of Yiddish material in the Cambridge Genizah collections is very small in comparison with that written in Judaeo-Arabic, Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic or even Ladino, the few existing fragments are rather extraordinary.
The most important literary example is the 14th-century Dukus Horant, a narrative... Read More

Has tags: Genizah Fragments, letter, Yiddish

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Miriam Goldstein on Wed 20 Oct 2021

Miriam, what are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished a book devoted to the Judaeo-Arabic versions of the Helene narrative of Toledot Yeshu.

You gave a talk on Toledot Yeshu in Toronto at the end of 2019 (it’s available to watch now on YouTube). That must have been one of your last trips abroad before the pandemic took hold.

Yes! I did manage to participate in a conference in February 2020 but that one was in Jerusalem and then our world changed.... Read More

Has tags: Christian, Genizah Fragments, Jesus, Muslim-Jewish relations, polemic, Q&A, Toledot Yeshu

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 14 Oct 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 62 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in October 2011, by Gabriele Ferrario.

Providing a satisfactory definition of the meaning of the word ‘alchemy’ seems to be as challenging as pursuing one of its final goals: the transmutation of base metals into silver and gold. It is a multifaceted discipline that can be looked at from different points of view: alchemical texts can resemble cookbooks, obscure allegorical poems,... Read More

Has tags: alchemy, Genizah Fragments

 

By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Ben Outhwaite on Wed 13 Oct 2021

Ben, what have you been up to?

The most exciting recent thing is that we have now returned to the office, after more than 18 months of mostly working at home. Things aren’t quite back to normal – we still wear masks in public areas, the UL is much quieter than it usually is, and they’ve closed the tearoom!!! – but we’re getting there.

Yes, the UL isn’t the same without a place to sip mediocre coffee and discuss medieval manuscripts, is it? Speaking of manuscripts, what are you working on at the moment?

We’ve just come to the end of a... Read More

Has tags: Abraham Maimonides, Genizah Fragments, mastara, Mosseri, Q&A, responsa

 

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