The Genizah at the House of Shepher
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The Genizah at the House of Shepher

3.09 of 5 stars 3.09  ·  rating details  ·  140 ratings  ·  38 reviews
A scholar, returning to her family home in Jerusalem becomes embroiled in a family dispute over a discovered Codex, brought home originally her great-great grandfather. Set against the backdrop pf a hundred and thirty years of change, this is a novel of exile and belonging, displacement and the quest for both love and a true promised land.
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 15th 2005 by Toby Press (first published March 30th 2005)
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If I were to pick one word to describe this book, it would be confusing. You start a new chapter and it begins with pronouns; I kept wondering, who are we talking about?! After a page you know, but that is too long for my tastes. He did this and felt that and she responded in this manner…..but who, who, who - I was asking over and over again?! Finally I knew and then what was I supposed to do? Go back and reread the page? This happened not once, but often. The time-line jumps around and few date...more
E. Ilana Diamant
This is one of the worst but well-written books I've read in a long time. Unreadable, soporific, full of cliches and stereotypes, and forget about character/plot. I'm glad I finished it.
Memo to would-be Tamar Yellins of the literary world:
Just because your novel spans multiple generations and just because Jerusalem's history is part of it, that doesn't make it a good novel or a non-boring one. I don't understand why this got the jewish book award.
And speaking of Jerusalem in fiction, Shulamit Ha...more
Although the bones of the story are interesting (woman returns to family home before its demolition to find that a valuable Codex of unknown origin has been found, interspersed with family history), the actual writing is so boring it was all I could do to finish the book. Pages pass where nothing occurs. Although not densely populated, it was difficult keeping track of the 20 or so characters because they were not sufficiently distinct.
Cindie Harp
I love magical realism and I love stories that have Judaism as its own character. I actually was left unsure whether a character in this book was real or imagined, so I emailed the author, and G-d bless her, she emailed me back the answer. If you are in the mood for something spiritual and are not the sort who need literal and definitive answers, I recommend you come to this book
Oct 13, 2008 Carol rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves visiting a foreign land; Sharon
Recommended to Carol by: Bookstore find
I don't know what made me pick up this book, but I'm so glad I did! It's like visiting a foreign country where they speak a dialect of your language, so while everything is new and fascinating, you can still understand what's going on.

Shulamit has gone to her grandparents home (from England to Jerusalem) to visit one final time before the house is torn down. Her trip is a journey in self-awareness and acceptance which takes her through 4 generations of her eccentric Jewish family.

I really enjoye...more
Dennis Fischman
At first, I feared this book would tell the story of a hunt for secret spiritual knowledge, sort of a Da Vinci Code in Hebrew letters. Thank God, it is nothing of the kind. The Codex that sets the plot in motion is nothing more than a McGuffin. The real story of the book is the search to solve the deeper mysteries: Who were my parents before I was around? What made them the way they are? Who am I, and how do I fit in?

If you are reading for adventure, set off in another direction. If you seek cer...more
The reasons an individual chooses a book are varied, and often quirky. My reasons for choosing The Genizah at the House of Shepher may be among the most quirky. First of all, the author's given name, Tamar, is that of the younger daughter of friends who immigrated to Israel a number of years ago. The main character is Shulamit, which happens to be the name of their older daughter. As one progresses through the alphabet, it becomes harder to find books written by authors whose last names begin wi...more
This book was a joy to read. The language, rich and warm, particularly when describing the mythic history of the Shepher family going back to the 19th century. It is a tapestry of emotion, longing and want. The threads of family histories are woven into the story of love, of aging and missed opportunity. Yellin is particularly masterful in showing us the passage of time. [return][return]Shulamit Shepher, the narrator, enters the genizah, the storeroom of the past where every yellowing packet of...more
This book was a joy to read. The language, rich and warm, particularly when describing the mythic history of the Shepher family going back to the 19th century. It is a tapestry of emotion, longing and want. The threads of family histories are woven into the story of love, of aging and missed opportunity. Yellin is particularly masterful in showing us the passage of time. [return:][return:]Shulamit Shepher, the narrator, enters the genizah, the storeroom of the past where every yellowing packet o...more
FYI -- the meaning of genizah [C19: from Hebrew, literally: a hiding place, from gānaz to hide, set aside]
In Judaism, a repository for timeworn sacred manuscripts and ritual objects, generally located in the attic or cellar of a synagogue. In the Middle Ages most synagogues had a genizah, because ceremonial burial (often with the remains of a pious, scholarly Jew) was thought to be the only fitting manner of disposing of sacred documents. Countless sacred manuscripts-called shemot ("names") beca...more
Me topé con éste libro por casualidad en Sevilla. No me arrepiento de haberlo adquirido. Es una belleza de principio a fin. El lenguaje que utiliza la autora es verdaderamente hermoso, al igual que la historia familiar que nos relata a lo largo del libro. Creo que en el mundo hay pocas comunidades verdaderamente estrechas, unidas y solidarias, y una de ellas es sin duda la comunidad judía.

Pocas son las familias que preservan su historia con tanto cuidado, y que conocen sus orígenes y su paso por...more
Tamar Yellin's first book explores the themes revisited in her later collections of short stories: the lost tribes, Jewish and Biblical history, family history (real and imagined), estrangement, life's irrevocable choices and conflicting homelands and the notion of belonging. The narrative proceeds through a series of stories strung together that link the first person protagonist, a biblical scholar, with her personal past and generations past, and from lives of great spirituality to 20th centur...more
This is the story of the Shepher family and how they acquired the Genizah and how it was returned to its rightful owners. The Shephers are an eccentric family of Jews living in Jerusalem. Uncle Saul asks his London niece Shulamit to visit the family home - a rented dilapidated house about to be torn down and replaced by modern lofts - where he has recently found a codex in the attic. The chapters weave in and out of the present and the history of the Sephers and Shulamit's own past. It is a stor...more
Bluma Schneider
Theme good. Very dragged out. I do like her style back and forth with the time settings.
Susan Beecher
Compelling and very interesting novel mostly placed in Israel. A family history of sorts. I recommend it.
Nov 09, 2009 Heather rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Heather by: Library Find
The story is well written and wonderfully characterized. I really enjoyed the way the author wove the past and present into a concise and interesting narrative. I found the bits of Jewish history and tradition to be welcome elements as well. I did not like the codex plot line. It was jarring, vague and uninteresting. It felt like the author presented a complete and beautiful manuscript to her editor and was told to add in a mystery to make it sale-able. The codex plot line adds a discordant thre...more
May 13, 2013 Lou rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: hated
I know many people like this book and I don't want to be disrespectful but I HATE this book. I forced myself to finish reading the book because it was boring, boring and boring. The only thing that I liked about it was some quotes and nothing else. If you like books written in first person, with many internal monologues and lots of history, I recommend this book. And if not, don't read this.
A life-long student of spiritual studies, I love reading about the Torah. Kabbalah, numerology, codex all go hand-in-hand with Hebrew Scripture studies. There is the issue of enmeshment/fusion and "rights" within a family's history.

I'm a tough critic for sure, but enjoyed this, tho my overall rating is "3 Stars".
Dev Singer
The book is less about the mystery of the genizah and more about the history of the Shepher family, and I found that once it got to the more recent Shephers their lives weren't actually interesting. Near the end I started skipping the recent-history chapters and just reading the now chapters.
Aug 18, 2009 Sue marked it as decided-not-to-read
There's nothing really WRONG with this book, it's just b-o-r-i-n-g. There are some lovely passages, so I kept going longer than I would have otherwise, but today on page 119 I quit. The book tackles a potentially interesting theme, but it (the book) is just not moving along.
Aingeal Stone
Before this story I'd never heard of a genizah, an archive of books and documents that contain the name of G-d, and being a librarian archivist I find it intriguing. Other than that I found the story sad and dismal, though it is very well written.
I enjoyed this story, especially because I could picture the places in Israel about which the author was writing. I had a bit of a hard time following the movement back and forth across time, and keeping the characters straight in my mind.
Maybe I didn't have enough angst to finish this book. It was slow getting to a point. Maybe I would have liked it if I finished it but it just didn't hold my attention when I have other books calling my name.
Gmyersnyc myers
this book was interesting. I love anything that has the Jewish religion as a thematic backdrop. It purported to have a great mystery, or suspense to it, but I found it to be somewhat anti-climatic...
Jan 09, 2013 Pancha marked it as no
Shelves: fiction
A novel the jumped between the ostensible main character in modern time and her various predecessors (grandfather, great-grandfather, etc). None of the various narrations held much interest for me.
A great read. A story of family history, Jewish culture, and the ties that bind us. Really well written, culturally rich, and a fabulous plot.
interesting combination of fantastical and family-drama. Lots of good writing in spots, then lapses also in other places.
Excellent book. A book about family history, holiness, and wholeness. Enjoyed it very much.
Interesting story of generations of a Jerusalem family, weaving back & forth from present to past
Beautifully written although the story is less compelling than the writing itself.
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