SACRED TREASURE, THE CAIRO GENIZAH : THE AMAZING DISCOVERIES OF FORGOTTEN JEWISH HISTORY IN AN EGYPTIAN SYNAGOGUE ATTIC
by Mark Glickman
In Jewish law, it is forbidden to discard any sacred document. Words are powerful, especially those of the Torah. They must be handled with great care. In order to preserve Hebrew books and papers, they should be kept in a repository, such as a designated room in a synagogue called a genizah. Whatever was kept here would be safe, even though they were unusable. Originally, only documents bearing the names of God were allowed then any document with Hebrew on it.
From the tenth through the nineteenth centuries, the Ben Ezra Synagogogue, in Cairo (a Jewish community thrived and flourished here back in the day), stored an amazing collection of sacred scraps. It was a dark room in the attic. Scarcely anybody knew that these papers existed.
If it wasn't for Rabbi Solomon Schecter, the importance of what he found would have completely disintegrated in a matter of time.
Some of the incredible finds were: early copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls; the last letter to Moses Maimonides from his brother David who was lost at sea; twelfth century Jewish sheet music composed by an Italian priest who converted to Judaism; the list continues.
Sacred Treasure is one fascinating gem of a book. Mark Glickman keeps your interest from the beginning to the very last page. He reveals some really startling facts about early Jewish life that is a contradiction to what is written today in modern Jewish history, who picked up the torch from Schecter to carry on the genizah research, the scholars who wrote and published works on their discoveries, the preservationists and their methods trying to prevent parchment from crumbling into dust, and the digitization that would provide instant access to people from all over the world to instantly see ancient manscripts on the Internet.
Truly a remarkable account of a forgotten and little known period in history and a terrific read.