The Cairo Genizah manuscripts: Taylor-Schechter Old Series and the Mosseri Collection

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Cambridge University Library

Abstract

The Cairo Genizah Collection is a vast trove of medieval Jewish manuscripts recovered from a synagogue in the town of Fustat, Egypt. One hundred years ago, a Cambridge scholar, Solomon Schechter, visited the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, Old Cairo, and was astounded to discover that the Jewish community there had, for nearly a thousand years, been placing their worn out and unusable documents in its storeroom (Genizah).
It is prohibited in Jewish religious law to destroy any text that contains God's name; instead such texts should be stored away and deferentially buried. For reasons unknown, the Jewish community of Fustat buried no more than a small proportion of their texts, and instead stored them away in the Genizah from the 11th century to shortly before Schechter's visit. Moreover, the community took to secreting away all kinds of text, not just sacred writings such as the Bible or prayer books, but all manner of texts: from the central texts of rabbinic Judaism to personal letters, from collections of liturgical poetry to butcher's bills, from Jewish trader's accounts to children's writing-exercises.
Schechter carried nearly 200,000 of these precious manuscripts back to Cambridge University Library, where today they form the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection, the largest and most important single collection of medieval Jewish manuscripts. Schechter himself moved on, and the work passed to other hands, including the Cambridge librarian Ernest Worman, who sorted much of what became known as the 'Old Series' of the Collection. Following Worman's premature death, the Library's interest in the Collection waned, and much of it remained uncatalogued and loose in boxes until the 1960s. With the establishment of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit by the Library, however, interest revived, the Collection was properly conserved, and scholars began the arduous task of deciphering and cataloguing the tens of thousands of often difficult to read Hebrew, Judaeo-Arabic (Arabic in Hebrew characters, used by Jews), Arabic and Aramaic paper and parchment fragments.
The Collection is divided into various series, such as the 'New Series' and the 'Additional Series', determined by when the manuscripts were sorted and numbered. Recent projects, including a major AHRC-funded project, have concentrated on the New and Additional series, which had previously received little or no scholarly attention. It is the aim of the present project, however, to look at the oldest core of the Collection, the 'Old Series', which contains material that Schechter, Worman and the earliest scholars picked out and conserved, and which they found most fascinating. Here are some of the most important manuscripts in the Genizah, but no comprehensive catalogue or handlist exists. Using the expertise of research staff in the Genizah Unit, the incomplete handlists of Worman and others, 14,000 manuscripts from the T-S Old Series will be deciphered and comprehensively described. These catalogue descriptions will be made available on the Library's web-site, where they will be matched with images, and for the first time, this most important core of the Collection will be adequately described and widely accessible.
The T-S Collection is the largest, but not the only, collection to emerge from the Cairo Genizah. Some years after Schechter's visit, an Egyptian Jewish businessman and scholar by the name of Jacques Mosseri also gathered up a collection of Genizah manuscripts. These remained in the hands of the Mosseri family and, until recently, were off limits. Now, however, they are deposited on loan at Cambridge University Library, where they are being conserved, digitised and catalogued. The current project aims to assist with this task by describing and digitising 1,000 items as they are conserved from this new collection. As with the T-S fragments, these will bedisplayed online, allowing anyone interested to browse and examine these hitherto hidden treasures.

Publications

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Ashur A (2014) Between Egypt and Yemen in the Cairo Genizah in Journal of Islamic Manuscripts

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Daniel Davies (Author) (2011) Review of T. Rudavsky, 'Maimonides'. in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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Esther-Miriam Wagner (Author) (2013) The Semitic Languages of Jewish Intellectual Production

 
Title A pious errand 
Description This is a short story set in Old Cairo in 1042 CE, which takes a fictional look at the original history of the Cairo Genizah and the reason that manuscripts were deposited in the storeroom of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in the Middle Ages. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The short story was published on the Jewish Quarterly blog, the website of the UK-based periodical. 
URL http://jewishquarterly.org/2015/11/a-pious-errand-a-short-story-set-in-old-cairo-in-1042-ce/
 
Title Discarded History: The Genizah of Medieval Cairo 
Description This is a major exhibition being mounted in Cambridge University Library's exhibition centre 26 April 2017 to October 2017. This public exhibition is the first major display dedicated to the manuscripts of the Cairo Genizah to be held in this country, and will focus on recent research by the Genizah Research Unit at CUL and associated scholarship on what the Genizah has to tell us about everyday life in the Middle Ages. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Following a request from the new Museum of the Bible (https://www.museumofthebible.org), which opens its doors in Washington DC in November 2017, the exhibition will be travelling there after its run in Cambridge, and will be on display for the opening of the museum until probably the end of April 2018. 
 
Description The Cairo Genizah manuscripts held at Cambridge University Library (CUL) are the single largest and most important collection of medieval Jewish manuscripts in the world. Since their discovery in the 1890s they have revolutionised the academic study of Judaism and added greatly to the study of other disciplines, including in particular the social and economic history of the Mediterranean, as well as biblical studies and related fields.

During this project the Genizah Research Unit has examined, identified and described medieval and early modern manuscripts in a variety of languages, mainly Hebrew, Judaeo-Arabic, Arabic and Aramaic, but also including Judaeo-Greek, Judaeo-Syriac and Yiddish. We focussed on the Old Series of the Taylor-Schechter Collection, comprising some of the first manuscripts to capture the interest of the earliest researchers. Despite this interest, the Old Series had never been adequately described, thus hindering any scholarly exploitation of this most important material. CUL has completed the digitisation of the entire T-S Collection (approx. 193,000 manuscripts), but without adequate metadata the digitised collection has posed almost as many problems of accessibility as the physical collection itself. Therefore, the current project has been essential in providing descriptive metadata to the digitised images, allowing us to mount both together online in Cambridge Digital Library (CDL: cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk). We have identified and described more than 10,000 manuscripts of the Old Series as well as 1000 fragments of the newly arrived Jacques Mosseri Collection (approx. 7000 manuscripts in total), which is now in Cambridge on longterm loan after having been inaccessible to scholars for the last thirty years. CDL now hosts more than 18,000 separate manuscripts of the T-S and Mosseri Collections, as both images and detailed metadata. We continue to add descriptions produced during the project in regular updates, as they are converted to TEI and edited for language, quality and consistency, and expect to have all the material produced during the project online by the end of next year. In addition, we have contributed all our data - finished descriptions, bibliographic and raw data - to the online Friedberg Genizah Project (http://www.jewishmanuscripts.org), which is bringing together the scattered fragments of the Cairo Genizah into one online portal, and to which CUL has been the major contributor.

In addition to this principal output, the project team has also created and maintained other online resources, including our popular Fragment of the Month series (http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/) and our vital bibliography of the Collection (http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/bibliographies/genizah). We also continued a programme of public education, including hosting visiting groups to the collection on a monthly basis and participation in University-wide public education programmes (e.g. the Festival of Ideas), as well as lecturing and conference papers. A number of publications have been produced within the Unit and through significant collaborative projects, which have resulted in major publications on responsa literature, medicine and the history of the Indian Ocean trade.
Exploitation Route In allowing the searching and browsing online of 18,000 items from Cambridge's Cairo Genizah manuscripts it is now possible for scholars worldwide to utilise this collection for their own research without the need to visit Cambridge or scour through 100 years of Genizah publications. We have already seen important discoveries made by academic researchers external to the University in the field of Maimonides studies and the Indian Ocean trade, and we expect that increasing attention will be drawn to the importance of Genizah manuscripts through their ready availability online.
Sectors Education

URL http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/genizah
 
Description The Genizah Research Unit (GRU) was originally created in the 1970s at Cambridge University Library with the aim of completing the conservation and cataloguing of the more than 190,000 medieval and early-modern Jewish fragments in Cambridge's Cairo Genizah collections. More recently, however, the GRU has taken a lead in promoting the collections as both a superb scholarly resource for the history of the Middle Ages as well as publicising the Genizah as a fascinating window on medieval life. Thanks to the project, we were able to build a research team here in Cambridge University Library and maintain it as a centre of excellence and a resource for primary information about this unique collection. With our online presence, newsletters, public education programme and publications, we were able to draw attention to this resource and a number of clear impacts resulted. 1. Publication of two popular books on the history of the Collection. The research team provided a base and copious information, manuscript transcriptions and photographs to two sets of authors, both of whom produced 'biographies' of the Genizah fragments aimed at a popular audience. Of the two books, Sacred Trash, written by a MacArthur-award winning poet and his wife, an award-winning biographer, made its way into the New York Times bestseller list and has been reprinted several times, picking up superlative reviews. It is now extremely common for us to be contacted by potential visitors, collaborators, media researchers, or donors who have read one or both books. 2. Thanks to a connection in a radio-production company, Nightjar, we were alerted to the possibility of pitching for a programme in the BBC Radio 3 series 'The Essay'. With Nightjar's assistance our proposal was picked, and we subsequently wrote and recorded a five-episode strand of the Essay 'Life in fragments', which was broadcast over 5 days in May 2013, and repeated a year later. We retain rights in the original recordings and have provided them for undergraduate teaching purposes in the US. 3. The academic and author Prof. Miri Rubin contacted the PI to arrange an interview for a radio programme she was making about the Spanish Hebrew poet Judah ha-Levi. This was broadcast on Radio 4 under the title 'My heart is in the East' - Judah's most famous poem. Prof. Rubin was aware that primary sources concerning the life of Judah ha-Levi are contained in the Genizah and contacted us to obtain the most recent information about his journey to Egypt and subsequent death. The radio programme highlighted how much we still have to learn about even famous figures of the Middle Ages and how the Genizah Collection is at the forefront of that search for knowledge. 4. After our appearance in both print and radio, we were contacted by the production company making Simon Schama's major new series for the BBC, 'The Story of the Jews'. Following research visits to the Unit by their production researcher, the PI was interviewed on camera for episode 2 of the series, which focussed on the experience of the Jews in the Middle Ages. This series has been broadcast around the world, and we have had a number of contacts since who have cited it as their first experience of the Cairo Genizah. All of these activities stem from having an active research unit in the University Library, colocated with the collection. Over the four years of the project it proved to be a highly productive relationship that brought publicity to the UL and the work it does with its collections, as well as promoting the Genizah fragments as a remarkable window on the medieval world.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Andrew Mellon funding
Amount £293,000 (GBP)
Funding ID #21200705 
Organisation Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 
Sector Private
Country United States of America
Start 10/2012 
End 02/2016
 
Description British Academy Small Grant (Leverhulme Funds)
Amount £6,480 (GBP)
Organisation The British Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2013 
End 09/2015
 
Description Medicine in Medieval Egypt: creating online access to the medical corpus of the Cairo Genizah
Amount £92,783 (GBP)
Funding ID 105086/Z/14/Z 
Organisation Wellcome Trust 
Department Wellcome Trust Bloomsbury Centre
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 02/2015 
End 01/2017
 
Description Newton Trust funding
Amount £28,805 (GBP)
Organisation University of Cambridge 
Department Isaac Newton Trust
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 03/2011 
End 08/2012
 
Title Friedberg Genizah Project web portal 
Description The FGP web portal is a feature-rich website that allows the searching, browsing and analysis of all digitised Cairo Genizah manuscripts. This includes (as its substantial component) the Cambridge Genizah manuscripts, but adds to it those from many other organisations and individuals worldwide. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The FGP web portal has become the principal website (more than any one individual library or collections's website) for the researcher looking to find or view Genizah manuscripts. It is now one of the most regularly cited online databases in publications in the field of Genizah Studies. 
URL http://www.genizah.org/onlineFGP.htm
 
Title Genizah Bibliography Online 
Description Online bibliography of the Taylor-Schechter, Oriental and Additional, Mosseri and Westminster Genizah Collections (i.e. all those Genizah fragments in Cambridge University Library), searchable by author, manuscript number and keyword. It contains 113,789 references to 64,265 unique fragments across 3643 scholarly works and is the most comprehensive and up to date bibliographic guide to the Cambridge Genizah Collections available. It will be updated on a regular basis. The complete dataset (to 2016) is freely available as a txt file in RIS format from Cambridge University's Apollo repository: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.53 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The compilation of an electronic database of bibliographic data on the collection, going back through more than 100 years of research, enabled us to design and implement a project of text-mining, to automate the process of producing rich metadata for Genizah manuscripts. The project was pitched as a multi-year research grant to the Mellon Foundation. The Foundation funded it and the project is ongoing to date (Oct 2014). 
URL http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/bibliographies/genizah
 
Title The Cairo Genizah Collection @ Cambridge Digital Library 
Description We have so far mounted more than 21,500 manuscripts online on Cambridge University Library's new Cambridge Digital Library (http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/genizah). High-resolution images are available alongside descriptive metadata for each item. The collection is browsable and searchable, and the images may be freely downloaded for all non-commercial purposes. We continue to add features to the interface, most recently allowing for fuzzy searching across concepts, as well as tools for users to add annotations. We continue to add content (manuscript images and descriptions) on a monthly basis. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The mounting of images and descriptions online of the Cairo Genizah Collections at Cambridge University Library has revolutionised the study of the manuscripts. The sharing of the images and data to other organisations has further greatly increased the online spread of the Collections, such that we have seen a substantial increase in the number of publications citing or otherwise utilising the Cairo Genizah fragments. The primary mode of research on this Collection has become electronic. 
URL http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/genizah
 
Description Collaboration with Sacred Trash 
Organisation Peter Cole & Adina Hoffman
Country United States of America 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Through a series of meetings and interviews, held over several visits to Cambridge by authors Peter Cole and Adina Hoffman, as well as numerous email inquiries and telephone conversations, the project team provided a wealth of primary, secondary and bibliographic data to enable the writing of the book 'Sacred Trash', a lyrical history of the Cairo Genizah discovery and a portrait of the varied cast of characters who played roles in the story. The book has been a major success, having been reprinted several times, and has brought many further inquiries for information from those who read it.
Collaborator Contribution The authors Peter Cole and Adina Hoffman publicised the importance of this collection and highlighted the role of the research unit in their history of the Cairo Genizah. It has given us valuable international (particularly in the US) publicity and has led directly to several further media inquiries.
Impact Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole, Sacred Trash: the lost and found world of the Cairo Geniza, Nextbook-Schocken, New York 2011.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Collaboration with Sacred Treasure 
Organisation University of Birmingham
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In a series of interviews and follow-up emails, the team provided a large amount of primary, secondary and bibliographic information to rabbi and author Mark Glickman for his book 'Sacred Treasure', which was a popular account of the Cairo Genizah Collection and its discovery.
Collaborator Contribution Mark Glickman published his book, 'Sacred Treasure', which while not as widely received as Hoffman and Cole's 'Sacred Trash' nevertheless was responsible for a number of further inquiries for potential collaboration and offers of funding.
Impact Rabbi Mark Glickman, Sacred Treasure: the Cairo Genizah -- the amazing discoveries of forgotten Jewish history in an Egyptian synagogue attic, Jewish Light Publishing, Vermont 2011.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Collaboration with the 'India Book' project 
Organisation Tel Aviv University
Country Israel, State of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Emeritus Prof. Mordechai Friedman of Tel Aviv University has been publishing documents related to the medieval Jewish trade with India, in a series of volumes collectively known as the 'India Book'. During the period of the grant, we identified many further items relating to this trade (particularly of historical figures involved or peripheral to the trade) and supplied images and information to Prof. Friedman, allowing him to edit and publish them in his series of volumes, published by the Ben Zvi Institute, Israel.
Collaborator Contribution Following our identifications of material (manuscript letters, legal documents and economic documents) relevant to the India and Yemen trading centres in the 12th to 13th centuries, Prof. Friedman and Dr A. Ashur provided fuller descriptions of the items for us to include in our metadata, whilst incorporating full editions of the texts in their series of volumes on the Jewish trade with India in the Middle Ages.
Impact The collaboration has discovered, identified and described new documents relevant to the India Trade, which have now been incoporated in the series of Hebrew-language volumes known as Sefer Hodu ??? ????, 'The India Book', edited by M. A. Friedman (with the collaboration, in later volumes, of A. Ashur).
Start Year 2011
 
Description Collaboration with the Cairo Genizah Responsa Project 
Organisation Schocken Institute for Jewish Research
Country Israel, State of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We collaborated with a project based in the Schocken Institute for Jewish Research, Jerusalem, which aims to edit and publish all the medieval and early modern fragments containing responsa - legally binding answers to questions of Jewish law - to be found in the Cairo Genizah. So far one English-language volume has been published (Shmuel Glick et al, 'Seride Teshuvot: a descriptive catalogue of responsa fragments from the Jacques Mosseri Collection, Cambridge University Library', Leiden, 2012) as well as three further Hebrew-language volumes.
Collaborator Contribution A team led by Prof. Shmuel Glick transcribed, edited and translated hundreds of Jewish responsa (formal answers to questions of religious law: the Jewish version of the Islamic fatwa) for publication in a number of different volumes.
Impact The initial outcome was a book entitled 'Seride Teshuvot' in the Brill Cambridge Genizah Studies series, edited by S. Glick et al. This covers the classical period of responsa in the Cairo Genizah. A further three volumes in Hebrew have now appeared, edited by S. Glick and A. Dotan, which cover responsa from the Ottoman period (16th c. onwards).
Start Year 2007
 
Description Collaboration with the Friedberg Genizah Project 
Organisation Friedberg Genizah Project
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Friedberg Genizah Project Inc is a US-based not-for-profit that aims to improve access to the riches of the Cairo Genizah through digitisation of manuscripts. They maintain an online portal of digitised Genizah manuscripts. We provide them both images and data for this portal -- descriptive metadata of manuscripts as we identify them and bibliographic data that we continually gather. This has been a successful collaboration going back many years.
Collaborator Contribution In return for providing full access to our data to FGP Inc., they sponsor the work on several part-time researchers in the Unit to assist with the preparation of identifications and the managing of bibliographic data on the Collection. They contribute approximately £50,000 per annum to the expenses of our research, maintaining one .5 FTE Research Associate and a smaller proportion of another.
Impact The principal output is the online portal of Genizah manuscripts accessible at: http://www.genizah.org/onlineFGP.htm This is a major web resource for Genizah Studies for which a free registration is required.
 
Description 'The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated': the Hebrew language in the Medieval Genizah world 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 40-minute lecture for the David Patterson Seminar series, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, February 2011

A request to give the paper as a keynote at the British Association for Jewish Studies Conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Alchemy and magic in the Cairo Genizah 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Lecture given at Clare Hall, Cambridge, aimed at academic staff and postgraduate students from across all disciplines, as part of series of sharing knowledge of different fields of research carried out by members of the college.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Alchemy in medieval Islamic lands: new evidence from the Cairo Genizah 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Paper delivered at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, April 2012 as part of their proposed exhibition project 'The alchemy of art'.

Request from the Getty for future involvement in an exhibition on the art of alchemy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Angels, demons and scorpions 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Free public engagement event, as part of the University of Cambridge's 'Festival of Ideas', aimed at children of ages 6-13. It consisted of a variety of hands-on activities on the subject of magic, secret alphabets and the occult, all inspired by manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah. Numbers were limited to 30 children, due to the size of the room.

It was an extremely popular and successful event. The University asked us to rerun the event the following year and to increase the maximum number of children who could attend.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Demons, scorpions and nightmares 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A free public engagement event, as part of the University of Cambridge's 'Festival of Ideas', aimed at children of ages 6-13. It consisted of a variety of hands-on activities inspired by manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah, and included writing secret mystical alphabets and dream interpretation.

A request from the University for us to participate in future Festival of Ideas programmes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Developments in the status of Jewish women in twelfth-century Egypt as portrayed in prenuptial agreements from the Cairo Genizah 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A lecture on the social history of women according to the medieval prenuptial agreements preserved in the Cairo Genizah Collection.

An hour-long lecture given to a local Jewish cultural organisation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Do we need to talk about Medieval Hebrew? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A talk given to a group of educators in the Hebrew language (University and schoolteachers of Modern Hebrew) bringing to their attention the value of medieval Hebrew manuscripts as an interesting and accessible source of Hebrew language material for class discussion, projects etc. An immediate outcome of the talk was a visit by 50 schoolchildren from London to the Genizah Collection, and more are planned.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Dos Mameloshn: how Yiddish emerged, evolved and survived 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Popular lecture given to the Jewish Residents Association of Cambridge on the subject of the Yiddish language.

None.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Fragment of the month 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Throughout the life of the project (from July 2009 to January 2013), we added new entries to our website series 'Fragment of the Month', describing interesting or unusual manuscripts that we discovered during the course of the project. These short notices are intended to publicise items for a general audience, with full-fledged publication (where warranted) to follow. The 'Fragment of the Month' has proven to be a surprisingly popular part of our website, now drawing the majority of our traffic to it, and a number of items were widely disseminated around the web.

As a result of the FOTM postings, we have been contacted on more than one occasion by scholars keen to have more information about aspects of the Genizah Collection relevant to their own research. The site has also led to inquiries from the media interested in particular manuscripts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2008,2009,2010,2011
URL http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/
 
Description Gaon Solomon ben Judah: the humblest man in Jerusalem 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture delivered for the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society lecture series, October 2010, the British Museum.

None.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Lewis & Gibson 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture delivered as part of the Royal Asiatic Society's evening lecture series, which are open to the public, in November 2015 on the history of the Genizah Collections, title 'Lewis, Gibson and the Discovery of the Cairo Genizah'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Lives in fragments 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An hour-long public presentation, as part of Cambridge University's 'Festival of Ideas', on the colourful characters of the medieval Genizah world.

A request by the University to participate in the Festival in the following year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Lives in fragments: the Cairo Genizah 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An hour-long presentation for the University of the Third Age on the medieval world of the Cairo Genizah.

A request for another presentation to the UotTA.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description My heart is in the East 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The PI was interviewed extensively on radio for 'My Heart is in the East', by the Medieval historian Prof. Miri Rubin in an exploration of the rich history of the most famous of Hebrew poems, by Yehuda ha-Levi. The interview focussed on Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic manuscripts preserved in the Cairo Genizah Collections at Cambridge University Library. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 12 August 2012.

'My heart is in the East' is a 30-minute radio broadcast, narrated by Prof. Miri Rubin and featuring interviews with a number of experts on the life and work of Yehuda (Judah) ha-Levi, the medieval Spanish Hebrew poet. It was broadcast twice on Radio 4, 5
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lh975
 
Description Regressed, corrupt, hypo-correct? The origin and evolution of Judaeo-Arabic 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Paper given to the David Patterson seminar series, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University of Oxford, November 2011.

A request for collaboration in future research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Scandalously impure 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact An invited lecture for about 30 undergraduates and graduates at the Institut for den Nahen und Mittleren Osten, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich in January 2016. The title of the lecture was '"Scandalously impure and incorrect"? Medieval Hebrew from the Cairo Genizah'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Simon Schama's 'The story of the Jews' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The PI was interviewed on camera alongside manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah Collection at Cambridge University Library. This formed a segment in episode 2, 'Among Believers', of Simon Schama's major BBC TV series 'The Story of the Jews', first broadcast on 8 September 2013.

The series was broadcast nationally and internationally, and a number of inquiries to visit the collection were received subsequently, particularly from the US, including authors and journalists who were interested in following up specific parts of the collection and its relation to Jewish history (e.g. the history of Jewish cookery for a well-known Jewish food writer in the States).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0392pzx/episodes/guide
 
Description The Cairo Genizah - public engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We have a continuous programme of public engagement at the Genizah Research Unit, welcoming groups of visitors (from a half-dozen up to 50 at a time) on a monthly basis (usually, though sometimes the frequency varies). Researchers from the Unit give presentations on the Collection and their work on it, and we show them a selection of interesting manuscripts from the Genizah.

Visiting groups have included Jewish educational charities, synagogue groups, Israeli choirs, British and Austrian schoolchildren, a conference of Old Testament scholars, holocaust survivor groups, young Muslim 'leaders of tomorrow', various Israeli ambassadors and many more. In many cases following the visits, we have received requests for further information, for further lectures, invitations to conferences or Jewish educational events (e.g. Limmud), offers of voluntary work and donations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,
 
Description The Cairo Genizah: history and contents 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public talk delivered to the congregation of St John's Wood Synagogue, London, aimed at presenting the value of academic research on Jewish manuscripts. Members of the Synagogue subsequently arranged to come up to Cambridge and receive a further lecture and tour of our collection.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description The Essay: Life in Fragments: Stories from the Cairo Genizah 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact It comprises five 15-minute lectures as part of Radio 3's prestigious series 'The Essay', each episode given by a different member of the Genizah Research Unit. All the lectures centre on what the Cairo Genizah has taught us about the medieval world and are intended for a non-specialist audience.

The BBC were pleased enough with the programmes to repeat them one year later (2014), not something they do with all programmes in 'The Essay' strand. We received two requests from different American institutions, as well as a number from UK correspondents, to use the audio of the programmes for teaching undergraduate courses in Middle Eastern History/Jewish-Muslim relations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b020tknt
 
Description The Genizah manuscript collection: history and significance for the study of medieval Judaism 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Paper delivered in the lecture series 'Cartas de Sefarad. Vida y cultura judía en al-Andalus', Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, March 2012. A series of public lectures aiming to inform about the role of Jewish life in medieval Spanish history.

Part of a series of lectures on medieval Spanish Jewry to accompany an exhibition in Madrid funded by the Rothschild Foundation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012