Sacred Treasure-The Cairo Genizah: The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic

Overview

Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code in an old Egyptian synagogue—the amazing story of one of the most important discoveries in modern religious scholarship.

In 1896, Rabbi Solomon Schechter of Cambridge University stepped into the attic of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt, and there found the largest treasure trove of medieval and early manuscripts ever discovered. He had entered the synagogue's genizah—its repository for damaged and destroyed Jewish texts—which held ...

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Sacred Treasure--the Cairo Genizah: The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic

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Overview

Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code in an old Egyptian synagogue—the amazing story of one of the most important discoveries in modern religious scholarship.

In 1896, Rabbi Solomon Schechter of Cambridge University stepped into the attic of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt, and there found the largest treasure trove of medieval and early manuscripts ever discovered. He had entered the synagogue's genizah—its repository for damaged and destroyed Jewish texts—which held nearly 300,000 individual documents, many of which were over 1,000 years old.

Considered among the most important discoveries in modern religious history, its contents contained early copies of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, early manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, and other sacred literature. The importance of the genizah's contents rivals that of the Rosetta Stone, and by virtue of its sheer mass alone, it will continue to command our attention indefinitely.

This is the first accessible, comprehensive account of this astounding discovery. It will delight you with its fascinating adventure story—why this enormous collection was amassed, how it was discovered and the many lessons to be found in its contents. And it will show you how Schechter’s find, though still being "unpacked" today, forever transformed our knowledge of the Jewish past, Muslim history and much more.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Gripping.... With descriptive flair, [this] is a page-turner, a fast-paced archaeological mystery, a globe-trotting adventure, and a wonderful story. Highly recommended!"
Dr. Ron Wolfson, Fingerhut Professor of Education, American Jewish University; president, Synagogue 3000; author, The Seven Questions You're Asked in Heaven: Reviewing and Renewing Your Life on Earth

"Brings this adventure vibrantly to life, taking the reader on a fascinating journey…. Accessible and engaging … a great introduction to a complex story of scheming, scholarship, and sensation."
Dr. Rebecca J. W. Jefferson, head of the Price Library of Judaica, University of Florida; former researcher, Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, Cambridge University

"Fascinating ... well researched and enthusiastic, [it] offers a wonderfully enjoyable introduction to a subject that deserves far more attention than it has received thus far."
Donald P. Ryan, PhD, division of humanities, Pacific Lutheran University

“If there were a religious wonders of the world list, the Cairo Genizah would be near the top of it; and Rabbi Mark Glickman its indispensable—eloquent, wry and knowledgeable—guide.”
Melissa Fay Greene, author, The Temple Bombing

“With an exhilarating enthusiasm and an eye for curious detail, Mark Glickman relates the tale of the recovery of this momentous archive and examines its impact on our interpretation of the Jewish past.”
Ben Outhwaite, director, Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, Cambridge University

“Traces with page-turning enthusiasm the discovery, study, and significance of the Cairo Genizah. Recommended for Jewish studies classes, book groups, and synagogue adult study classes. A joy to read!”
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, professor of rabbinic literature, The Jewish Theological Seminary; author, Sage Tales: Wisdom and Wonder from The Rabbis of the Talmud

From the Publisher

"Gripping.... With descriptive flair, [this] is a page-turner, a fast-paced archaeological mystery, a globe-trotting adventure, and a wonderful story. Highly recommended!"
Dr. Ron Wolfson, Fingerhut Professor of Education, American Jewish University;
president, Synagogue 3000; author, The Seven Questions You're Asked in Heaven:
Reviewing and Renewing Your Life on Earth

"Brings this adventure vibrantly to life, taking the reader on a fascinating journey…. Accessible and engaging … a great introduction to a complex story of scheming, scholarship, and sensation."
Dr. Rebecca J. W. Jefferson, head of the Price Library of Judaica, University of Florida;
former researcher, Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, Cambridge University

“Fascinating ... well researched and enthusiastic, [it] offers a wonderfully enjoyable introduction to a subject that deserves far more attention than it has received thus far.”
Donald P. Ryan, PhD, division of humanities, Pacific Lutheran University

“If there were a religious wonders of the world list, the Cairo Genizah would be near the top of it; and Rabbi Mark Glickman its indispensable—eloquent, wry and knowledgeable—guide.”
Melissa Fay Greene, author, The Temple Bombing

“With an exhilarating enthusiasm and an eye for curious detail, Mark Glickman relates the tale of the recovery of this momentous archive and examines its impact on our interpretation of the Jewish past.”
Ben Outhwaite, director, Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, Cambridge University

“Traces with page-turning enthusiasm the discovery, study, and significance of the Cairo Genizah. Recommended for Jewish studies classes, book groups, and synagogue adult study classes. A joy to read!”
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, professor of rabbinic literature, The Jewish Theological Seminary; author, Sage Tales: Wisdom and Wonder from The Rabbis of the Talmud

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580235129
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/1/2012
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,559,683
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Rabbi Mark Glickman, a popular speaker on Judaism and modern life, is rabbi of Congregations Kol Ami in Woodinville, Washington, and Kol Shalom on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He is author of Sacred Treasure—The Cairo Genizah: The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic. He also writes a regular religion column for the Seattle Times and has been featured in other books and journals.

Rabbi Mark Glickman is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Sacred Treasure: The Cairo Genizah
  • The Largest Jewish Library in the World: How the Nazis Preserved Some of European Jewry's Greatest Literary Treasures
  • Watching Our Words: Jewish Insights on Gossip and Sacred Speech
  • Snipers, Searchers and Sages: A Rabbi's Experience in Non-Jewish America
  • Movers, Shakers and a Few Real Nuts: How a Handful of Mentally-Ill Individuals Transformed the History of the Jewish People

Click here to contact the author.

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Table of Contents

Prologue xi

Introduction: Treasures in the Synagogue Attic 1

1 The Genizah Moment 13

2 Solomon Schechter: The Rabbi of Christ's College 31

3 "The Giblews": The Sisters, Their Adventures, and the Documents That Opened the Genizah 42

4 May 13, 1896 53

5 A Battlefield of Books 64

6 Unpacking the Boxes 92

7 More Treasures Come to Light: The Genizah after Schechter, 1902-50 115

8 Professor Genizah: Shelomo Dov Goitein and the Mediterranean Society He Uncovered 133

9 Sheet Music, Long-Lost Talmud, and a Lame and Decrepit Female Hyena: The Second Half-Century of Genizah Research 157

10 The Genizah Today 179

11 The Friedberg Genizah Project 201

Conclusion: Sacred Treasure 221

Acknowledgments 231

Notes 235

Photo Credits 247

Index 249

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 28, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Well written engaging account of the most amazing find in literary archeology. I enjoyed reading it very much and learned a great deal about the story and the history of the Jewish people of the Middle Ages in the Middle East as opposed to Central Europe and Iberia. Reads quickly but is a well told history of the Genizah which many people don't know a great deal about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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