Exploring a forgotten world through the Cairo genizah

by | Dec 15, 2022 | What’s Happening

Thursdays, 12 pm

Sandler Family Campus and online

10-week course begins Thursday, January 19, 2023

More than 100 years ago, Solomon Schechter, a Jewish studies professor from Cambridge University in England, launched an expedition exploring the genizah (a storage vault where decaying books, manuscripts, and other Judaic artifacts are placed for eventual burial so that they are not treated as ordinary waste or garbage) of the old main synagogue in Cairo, Egypt. The genizah housed a treasure trove of Jewish tradition, preserved for centuries in the dry desert air.

A 10-week course taught by Rabbi Michael Panitz, Exploring a Forgotten World: A Social History of Medieval Jewry as Revealed in the Cairo Genizah, invites students to examine history through selected contents of the documents discovered in the genizah. This course, offered by the Konikoff Center for Learning of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, will offer online and in-person options.

The course’s content focuses attention on aspects of the lifestyle and day-to-day behaviors of men, women, and families by looking at their correspondence, travels, and business acumen. It brings to life some of the more well-known Jewish historical figures and shines a spotlight on many lesser-known personalities.

As stated in the course introduction written by the course curriculum’s author, Dr. Shelley Buxbaum, a three-time graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, “The unique genizah archive is a rich source of information…about the daily life of the Jew in the Mediterranean area of the Middle Ages. It provides a remarkable insight into the Jewish past and the opportunity of thereby reaching a better understanding of Jewish identity in the present.”

The course costs $295 with $60 off if registered before Jan. 6 by using code T-CG-60 at checkout. For more information, to register, or to learn about other opportunities to engage in deep Jewish learning in Tidewater, visit JewishVA.org/KCL or contact Sierra Lautman at SLautman@UJFT.org.

Sierra Lautman