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T-S Ar. 52.242
T-S Ar. 52.242: A Karaite version of the Hebrew Bible (Numbers 14:30-33) transcribed in Arabic characters
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 22 Jul 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 17 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in April 1989, by Geoffrey Khan while he was a Research Associate in the GRU:

Among the treasures of the Cairo Genizah collections are a number of Hebrew Bible manuscripts written in the Middle Ages by members of the Karaite Jewish sect. These manuscripts are unusual in that the text is written not in Hebrew, but in Arabic script, sometimes with Hebrew pointing. The synagogue in which the...


Has tags: Arabic, Bible, British Library, Crusaders, Genizah Fragments, Hebrew, Karaite, language, Shapira


T-S Ar.53.61
T-S Ar.53.61 (recto)
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Moshe Yagur on Wed 21 Jul 2021

Hi Moshe, what are you working on at the moment?

In my new project I’m working on dwelling patterns of Jews, Christians and Muslims in medieval Egypt (and a bit elsewhere). We know they lived side by side, but to what extent? How did it effect notions of communal identity, religious practices, inter-religious contacts and sympathies, and so on?

Which kinds of Genizah manuscript are you utilising for this?

There are several kinds of documents to look at:

1. Deeds of sale or rent, written either in Jewish or Muslim court,...


Has tags: Fustat, Genizah Fragments, Goitein, legal, Moses Maimonides, Muslim-Jewish relations, property


T-S 20.113
Detail of T-S 20.113
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 15 Jul 2021

It’s the 15th of July, and 922 years since the Christian armies of the First Crusade captured Jerusalem from her Fatimid defenders. The siege of 38 days ended in a bloodbath, according to contemporary accounts, but the Cairo Genizah preserves what may be the earliest written account of some of the events of that day, and its aftermath. Weeks after Jerusalem was looted and burned, the elders of Ashqelon wrote to the Egyptian Jewish community to describe the reports of refugees who had either fled there ahead of the Crusaders or had been captured and released by them. 

...

Has tags: Crusaders, Fatimid, Genizah Fragments, Goitein, Jerusalem


Mosseri VII.207.1
Mosseri VII.207.1: a short note by the court clerk to the judge.
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Oded Zinger on Wed 14 Jul 2021

Oded, what are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on several court notes (for example Mosseri VII.207.1 and Mosseri VII.189.2). Mosseri VII.207.1 is a small note written by the court clerk (probably Hillel b. Eli or Halfon b. Manasseh in his early years) to the judge. A woman presented a bill of divorce which appeared suspicious. It was dated according to the calendar of deeds (shetarot) though the writer claims that it was not the custom of the judge to use this type of dating, and the bill of divorce also lacked the legal formula on its verso that...


Has tags: agunah, divorce, dowry, Firkovich, Genizah Fragments, legal, Mosseri, petition, Q&A


T-S Ar.38.8
T-S Ar.38.8 (recto): this Qur'anic leaf was folded vertically six times, most likely to be carried as a talisman.
By Nick Posegay on Thu 8 Jul 2021

GRU researcher Dr. Magdalen Connolly and I have just published an article about Genizah Qurʾan fragments in the Journal of Qurʾanic Studies, titled “A Survey of Personal-Use Qurʾan Manuscripts Based on Fragments from the Cairo Genizah.” In it, we identify 25 separate manuscripts of the Qurʾan – the holy book of Islam – in Cairo Genizah collections, including many in Cambridge. These manuscripts span the entire Genizah period and raise questions about medieval and pre-modern Jewish peoples’ engagement with...


Has tags: article, Genizah Fragments, Qurʾan


T-S 8K13.11
T-S 8K13.11 (leaf 1, verso): concerning the marriage of a woman raped and taken captive
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 8 Jul 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 12 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in October 1986, by Mordechai A. Friedman:

The ban of Rabbenu Gershom ben Judah of Mainz (early eleventh century), which prohibited polygamy among the Ashkenazim, was never accepted by Jewish communities living under Islam. But how polygamous were these Jews during the so-called “classical” Genizah period of the High Middle Ages, between the tenth and thirteenth centuries?

...

Has tags: betrothal, Crusaders, divorce, Genizah Fragments, Gershom, get, Goitein, Karaite, mamluk, marriage, Mordechai Akiva Friedman, polygamy, responsa, Simcha Assaf, slave


T-S 8J18.5
T-S 8J18.5 (recto): letter by Judah ha-Levi, who is trying to secure the freedom of a young captive woman.
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and José Martínez Delgado on Wed 7 Jul 2021

Pepe, what are you working on at the moment?

As always, I’m dealing with grammatical issues, working with the book of Hayyuj, on the study of the transmission of Biblical Hebrew in al-Andalus. But not just that, these days! I started working on grammatical texts in the Genizah back in 2007, but I came to recognise an impediment to many Genizah researchers – we only work on our ‘own’ topics. After I met Nadia Vidro, she introduced me to the world of the Karaites, and Amir Ashur opened up the world of al-Andalus. I realised that, although I deal with grammarians...


Has tags: al-Andalus, Genizah Fragments, grammar, Hayyuj, Judah ha-Levi, Q&A, slave


T-S AS 56.179
T-S AS 56.179, one of the more than 350 Hebrew fragments of Jeremiah used in Dr Jack Lundbom's textual study
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 1 Jul 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 32 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in October 1996, by Jack R. Lundbom, while he was a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall:

What induced me to consult the Taylor-Schechter Genizah fragments in the Cambridge University Library was an interest in section markings in ancient biblical manuscripts. Modern critical editions of the Hebrew Bible, e.g. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, designate these sections open or closed, the former by a...


Has tags: Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls, Genizah Fragments, scroll, sigla


T-S NS 298.2
T-S NS 298.2 (verso): letter talking about Moses Maimonides’ work in Egypt
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Ben Outhwaite on Wed 30 Jun 2021

So, Ben what are you working on today?

Well, life’s pretty varied at the moment. The GRU has a number of projects on the go, and so I’m spending quite a lot of time happily immersed in manuscripts (or, at least, their digital surrogates, since I am still working from home) in a way that I haven’t had the opportunity to for about the last 15 years, since I was a full-time researcher myself. At any one time, I may be describing documentary fragments from the T-S New Series, checking descriptions produced by other GRU researchers, enriching the TEI of descriptions with...


Has tags: Genizah Fragments, liturgy, Moses Maimonides, Q&A, Saadiah Gaon, Solomon of Sijilmassa


Genizah Research Unit 2010
As we were in 2010.
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 24 Jun 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is a photo of the Genizah Unit's staff as it once was in 2010 (with the exception of me - I must have been away that day). The team, from left to right: Blazej Mikula (photography), Mark Scudder (photography), Amir Ashur, Nancy Buck (photography), Ben Outhwaite, Sarah Sykes, Esther-Miriam Wagner, Lucy Cheng (conservation), Julia Krivoruchko, Gabriele Ferrario, Maciej Pawlikowski (photography), Samuel Blapp, Daniel Davies, and Ronny Vollandt. The team was particularly large at that point, as we had taken on additional researchers for an AHRC cataloguing...


Has tags: Genizah Fragments, staff


T-S Misc. 36.131
Detail of T-S Misc. 36.131 (recto): theological work by Samuel ben Hofni, copied by Joseph ben Jacob ha-Bavli
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Zvi Stampfer on Wed 23 Jun 2021

Hi Zvi, which manuscript are you working on today?

I’m looking at a couple of Genizah manuscripts. In general, I’m now dealing with witches.

Are these magical texts or responsa about witches?

They’re theological texts, on the relations between witches and theologians – not personal relations but of an academic nature. Witchcraft and witches were challenging topics for Jewish rational theologians and they addressed it in their writings. The most challenging case was the biblical story of the Witch of Endor and King Saul.



Has tags: Genizah Fragments, mu'tazila, Q&A, Saadiah Gaon, Samuel ben Hofni, theology, witches


Bouncing Back - and Forward
Bouncing Back – and Forward: From Immigrant Household to Cambridge Fellowship (Vallentine Mitchell & Co, 2021)
By Sarah Sykes on Wed 23 Jun 2021

Bouncing Back - and Forward: From Immigrant Household to Cambridge Fellowship ● By Stefan C. Reif ● Vallentine Mitchell & Co Ltd, 2021

When you have lived such a busy and varied life as Stefan Reif, it behoves you to record it for future posterity! From humble beginnings in Edinburgh to Professor and College Fellow at Cambridge University, Stefan’s life journey has been one full of industry and determination. The book, originally...


Has tags: Book, Genizah Fragments, Stefan Reif


T-S 12.299
T-S 12.299 (verso)
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 17 Jun 2021

To mark Refugee Week (14–20 June 2021), here’s a letter from Alexandria, Egypt from September 1212 CE, reporting the arrival of a large number of French refugees at the port. As Europe became less and less hospitable to its Jewish population – Phillip II of France had been enacting policies to confiscate Jewish property since 1180 – refugees began to flee across the Mediterranean to safety in Egypt. Their arrival is mentioned towards the end of a letter (T-S 12.299) sent to the cantor Meʾir ben Yakhin in...


Has tags: charity, France, Genizah Fragments, Goitein, refugees


T-S 12.829
T-S 12.829 (recto): part of an eleventh-century Judaeo-Arabic letter in the hand of Hai Gaon.
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee on Thu 17 Jun 2021

Our Throwback Thursday this week is taken from issue 21 of the printed edition of Genizah Fragments, published in April 1991, by Moshe Gil, Professor of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University:

In 1968, I started my research on the history of the Jews in Muslim lands in the early mediaeval period (frequently called the “geonic period”) with my late teacher, Professor S. D. Goitein. Since then, the main source of documentation for my work has been the Cairo Genizah manuscripts. I have made many visits to...


Has tags: Babylonian, Genizah Fragments, Hai Gaon, Moshe Gil, yeshiva


T-S AS 158.147
T-S AS 158.147 (recto)
By Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Nadia Vidro on Wed 16 Jun 2021

Nadia, which fragment are you working on today?

I am working on T-S AS 158.147. It’s a fragment of a Karaite calendar chronicle for the end of 410–418 AH (1020–1028 CE). I’m looking at it as part of the project ‘Qaraite and Rabbanite calendars: origins, interaction, and polemic’, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. It is a joint project between UCL and LMU (Munich).

What are the key things...


Has tags: calendar, chronicle, Firkovich, Genizah Fragments, Karaite, Q&A


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