Seattle Times book review: Sacred Treasure. Author at LFP Thursday

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rabbi Mark Glickman, author of Sacred Treasure: The Cairo Genizah, is the featured author at Third Place Books in LFP on Thursday, January 13 at 7 pm. The Seattle Times published a long review of the Rabbi's book by Irena Wanner.

"Seven Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 in a cave above the ancient desert outpost of Qumran, on the Dead Sea's West Bank. By 1956, more than 900 documents dating from 150 BCE to 70 CE had been found in 11 caves. Soon world famous, these copies of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts became a source of international contention. They were kept inaccessible for many years, then moved to the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem after the 1967 Six-Day War, and are now available for study there and digitally.

"By contrast, the world's largest trove of 10th- to 13th-century documents from the Cairo genizah (storage room) of Ben Ezra Synagogue number in the hundreds of thousands. Until now, they attracted mainly scholarly attention. But as Seattle-area Rabbi Mark Glickman observes in his fascinating new book, "Sacred Treasure — The Cairo Genizah: The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic" (Jewish Lights Publishing, 255 pp., $24.99), the potential knowledge in so many medieval texts is cultural wealth beyond compare. Anyone who loves reading mysteries and travel with a dash of archaeology and ancient history will find Glickman's tale both entertaining and educational.

"Unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls, he explains, the books, laws, letters, music and manuscripts in Egypt were never secret. They were all intentionally kept because written or printed words containing Hebrew are considered sacred and Jewish law forbids their destruction. Sometimes damaged or outdated items were buried in a Jewish cemetery. But the other, more convenient option, Glickman explains, was "to designate a room, usually an attic or a cellar in the synagogue, as a genizah." Cairo locals had always known Ben Ezra Synagogue's genizah was full of old papers, but they were "largely ignored." 

"Ignored, that is, until the 18th and 19th centuries, when Western interest in "things Oriental" came into vogue. Cairo's genizah prompted first a trickle, then a flood of documents to collectors and libraries worldwide. Cambridge University, for example, now holds 198,000 documents, and New York's Jewish Theological Seminary 30,398, with a global total of at least 291,000 having been removed.

Read the rest of the article here...


Jerry More January 9, 2011 at 8:56 PM  

Your post is great thanks for sharing.Im really in particular when it comes to books i buy.

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