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Sacred Treasure - The Cairo Genizah: The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic Paperback – March 1, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1580235129 ISBN-10: 1580235123 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights; 1 edition (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580235123
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580235129
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,406,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Rabbi Glickman introduces readers to a little-known treasure that shines a light on Jewish history. A genizah is a storage place for damaged Jewish religious documents. Any sacred text must be stored in a genizah or buried in a cemetery. The genizah of the Ben Ezra synagogue in Cairo, a city that once had a large, prosperous Jewish community, housed one of the world’s largest collections of documents. Glickman offers an overview of Jewish history, an introduction to the early scholars who explored this genizah, and an explanation of the various religious texts, some startling, found there. He then focuses on Rabbi Solomon Schechter, a shtetl scholar who became a Cambridge professor and, along with two intrepid Scottish sisters, studied these fascinating early manuscripts. Glickman brings the colorful story up to date with information about the post-Schechter work, the dispersal of the genizah’s collection to other libraries around the world, and the efforts to preserve and digitize the documents so that scholars everywhere can use them. Anyone who loves books and history will relish this. --Barbara Bibel --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Gripping.... With descriptive flair, [this] is a page-turner, a fast-paced archaeological mystery, a globe-trotting adventure, and a wonderful story. Highly recommended!"
Dr. Ron Wolfson, Fingerhut Professor of Education, American Jewish University; president, Synagogue 3000; author, The Seven Questions You're Asked in Heaven: Reviewing and Renewing Your Life on Earth

"Brings this adventure vibrantly to life, taking the reader on a fascinating journey…. Accessible and engaging … a great introduction to a complex story of scheming, scholarship, and sensation."
Dr. Rebecca J. W. Jefferson, head of the Price Library of Judaica, University of Florida; former researcher, Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, Cambridge University

"Fascinating ... well researched and enthusiastic, [it] offers a wonderfully enjoyable introduction to a subject that deserves far more attention than it has received thus far."
Donald P. Ryan, PhD, division of humanities, Pacific Lutheran University

“If there were a religious wonders of the world list, the Cairo Genizah would be near the top of it; and Rabbi Mark Glickman its indispensable—eloquent, wry and knowledgeable—guide.”
Melissa Fay Greene, author, The Temple Bombing

“With an exhilarating enthusiasm and an eye for curious detail, Mark Glickman relates the tale of the recovery of this momentous archive and examines its impact on our interpretation of the Jewish past.”
Ben Outhwaite, director, Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, Cambridge University

“Traces with page-turning enthusiasm the discovery, study, and significance of the Cairo Genizah. Recommended for Jewish studies classes, book groups, and synagogue adult study classes. A joy to read!”
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, professor of rabbinic literature, The Jewish Theological Seminary; author, Sage Tales: Wisdom and Wonder from The Rabbis of the Talmud

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
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See all 34 customer reviews
This book reads like the best mystery story.
Friend
An interesting and well written book about important information that has come back to life.
Rhiddler
The Genizah contained early drafts of the Dead Sea scrolls!
Josh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Three discoveries of documents during the past 120 years, two in the 1940s, revolutionized the understanding of Jewish and Christian history. Scholars may differ on which of the three is most important and which comes in second, but there is no dispute that the discoveries are significant.

One is the Dead Sea discoveries. These are hundreds of documents hidden in caves in Qumran, near the Dead Sea in Israel, by Essenes, a sect of very ascetic Jews who no longer exist. Qumran was destroyed in 67 CE just before the Romans demolished the Jewish Temple in 70 CE and exiled many but not all Jews from their homeland. They were a people who considered themselves pious; they separated from women and insisted on frequent washings. They wanted to preserve their library, so they hid their books in jars and buried them in caves. These books, found in the 1940s, describe their ideology, strivings, fears, hopes, and their antagonism to the rest of Jewry and the Temple. They speak about the messiah they expected to arrive shortly to save them. The library also contains copies of other books, including parts of all of the Hebrew Bible, except for the book of Esther. These books reveal new information of ancient Jewry and the time of Jesus. In fact, many scholars feel certain that John the Baptist was a member of this group or, at a minimum, was influenced by them, and he, in turn, they say, influenced Jesus.

The second is the Nag Hammadi library found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945. These are Gnostic Christian documents. They contain Gospels, accounts of the early life of Jesus that are radically different than the currently accepted canon.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By L.G. on November 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK, so Rabbi Mark Glickman is my older brother. OK, so I was acknowledged in the book. OK, so my review may be a bit skewed. However, always eager to contribute to an already healthy and loving sibling rivalry, I read this book with an especially critical eye, ready and willing to share with my older brother how I thought his first book was an atrocious mess.

Foiled, once again!

Mark has written a beautiful book about his love for history, his love for the Jewish people, and his love for the written word. Supported by a framework of solid research and scholarship, Mark has given us a wonderful gift.

Through the past 100 years, scholars around the world have studied the documents discovered in the Cairo Genizah. They have researched the writings, they have established institutions to preserve the materials, and they have used what they have learned as the basis for several scholarly articles and books.

For seemingly the first time, though, Mark tells the story behind the documents. He tells how they got to the Genizah, how the exciting story of how they were discovered (I had never heard the word "Giblews" before!), and what has happened to them since. He talks of visiting the Genizah itself, he talks of going to the Genizah research library at Cambridge University and he talks of looking at actual Genizah documents with his son, literally continuing the living chain of Jewish history.

This is a beautiful book, and even though Mark is my big brother, I highly recommend this to all who have an interest in adventure and history...you will not be disappointed.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael Strong on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
My main question when I first heard about the Cairo Genizah was: How is it that I never heard of this before? How come we all know about the Dead Sea Scrolls -- but nobody knows about the Cairo Genizah, which has hundreds of thousands of documents and provides a window into hundreds of years of jewish life in Egypt, going back over a millenium -- and even includes a Dead Sea Scroll? The oldest fragment of Talmud? etc etc Glickman does a great job telling the fascinating and important story both of the contents of the Genizah and the discovery of the Genizah itself, with profiles of Rabbi Solomon Schechter and others involved in the history, right up to the present day. While he touches on decades of scholarly work, the book is accessible enough for a general reader, and brings to light an incredible collection of materials that scholars will continue to work over for decades. Maybe someone will figure out how to make it into a movie -- because it's a pretty amazing collection of stuff. The individual items (a recipe, a song, letters, divorce documents, philosophical reflections) are what really bring it to life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stiffman on December 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Reading this book is like sitting listening to a great storyteller. Mark Glickman writes like he is speaking to you in person. The reader can literally hear his voice. He doesn't write this like a history but more like an exciting drama that is unfolding. He makes you feel the excitement each step along the way. Who knew that intellectual discovery could be this exciting.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By AJM on December 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rabbi Glickman's book is simply excellent. He engages you in a fascinating story of how discarded documents and scraps of paper -- found in a room the size of a small garage -- reveal how Jewish communities lived, prayed, worked, and studied over a thousand years ago. No matter your religion, you finish this book with a better understanding of the Jewish people: why language, learning, and the written word are so essential to them; how a forgotten yet vital link exists between Judaism and Islam; how Jewish religion developed over the past thousand years.

And Rabbi Glickman knows how to write. Most of us would not consider a book about archivists and historians highly engaging, especially in an age of docu-dramas and the History Channel. Yet we begin to grasp the excitement and tension that academics feel from assembling history, like a jigsaw puzzle, from sections of text and itty bitty scraps of paper.

Quite simply, if you're interested in the Jewish people, if you're interested in what makes historians and academics tick, if you're interested in a good read, get this book.
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Sacred Treasure - The Cairo Genizah: The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic
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