Aug 152011
 

All the critics have raved about this recounting of a collection of a thousand years of written documents crammed in a synagogue vault in Cairo, Egypt.  Because Jews, the People of the Book, find written words to be sacred, many documents, such as Torahs when they are no longer kosher or viable, are buried, rather than thrown away.  A Geniza such as this one in a Cairo synagogue is a room to store discarded sacred documents.  This congregation considered nearly all of its written documents deserving of special treatment.  The Jews of this neighborhood in Cairo tossed together their ancient texts, wedding contracts, prayer books, parables, donor lists, receipts, and business documents creating a disorganized “battlefield of books.”  While the interesting thing to me would be what those documents revealed, the book is almost entirely about the people who discovered the Geniza, a topic of far less interest.

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