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Cairo Geniza: Home

A geniza is a storage area, often in a out-of-the-way space in a synagogue, of sacred documents such as Bibles or prayerbooks when they are too worn to be used anymore but since they ares sacred cannot be thrown out.

Primary Source Material

Books on the Geniza



The Cairo Geniza is a collection of some 300,000 Jewish manuscript fragments that were found in the geniza or storeroom of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat or Old Cairo, Egypt. These manuscripts outline a 1,000-year continuum (870 CE to 19th century) of Jewish Middle-Eastern and North African history and comprise the largest and most diverse collection of medieval manuscripts in the world. The Genizah texts are written in various languages especially Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic mainly on vellum and paper, but also on papyrus and cloth. In addition to containing Jewish religious texts such as Biblical, Talmudic and later Rabbinic works (some in the original hands of the authors), the Genizah gives a detailed picture of the economic and cultural life of the North African and Eastern Mediterranean regions, especially during the 10th to 13th centuries. It is now dispersed among a number of libraries, including the libraries of Cambridge University and the University of Manchester. Some additional fragments were found in the Basatin cemetery east of Old Cairo, and the collection includes a number of old documents bought in Cairo in the later 19th century.  (From Wikipedia)

Solomon Schechter (above) a Cambrdige scholar after seeing samples of manuscripts in 1896 went to the Ben Ezra synagogue and brought back to England as many documents as he could.  Geniza fragments can be found today at Cambridge University,  The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Oxford University, The Johh Rylands Library, the University of Pennsylvania and several other libraries.

About the Cairo Geniza   From Center for Online Judaic Studies  From  Brill Online Reference works From Jewish Virtual Library  Wikipedia article on the Cairo Geniza  Article  from the University of Pennsylvania  Treausres in the Wall.  Article from the New Yorker, 2013. Relates to the world fo Jewish women as discovered in the Geniza.  Article taken from the Jewish Women's Archives.

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Subjects: Judaic Studies