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Sacred Treasure - The Cairo Genizah: The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  92 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code in an old Egyptian synagogue--the amazing story of one of the most important discoveries in modern religious scholarship.

In 1896, Rabbi Solomon Schechter of Cambridge University stepped into the attic of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt, and there found the largest treasure trove of medieval and early manuscripts ever discovered.
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Jewish Lights Publishing
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Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've known about the Cairo Genizah for so many years that I can't even remember where I first heard about it. But my knowledge was slim. I knew that it was discovered by Solomon Schechter. I knew it was one of the most important discoveries of old Jewish documents in the modern age but I had never heard an in-depth account of the discovery itself or of the details of its contents and its significance. In fact, I am amazed that it has taken a hundred years for such a book to be written. Thank you ...more
Michael Lewyn
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'd heard of the Genizah before, but didn't really know much about its history or its value. Some of what has come from the Genizah include:

*An early version of the works of Ben Sira (a Second Temple writer);
*Lots of information on variant versions of Jewish rituals such as the Haggadah, especially liturgy derived from post-Second Temple Israel (as opposed to liturgy reflecting Iraqi practice);
*Correspondence to and from Maimonides and other medieval sages, including a letter to the former from
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, judaica, history
I found this on the "new" display at the library. It looks like a dry read but it is anything but. The author is a fabulous writer and at times it reads like an adventure novel. You get a solid grounding in Jewish history along with an introduction to Jewish religious documents and a healthy dose of library science. Recommended to anyone with an interest in old books, Jewish history or liturgy.
gary schreiber
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This added a lot to my prior knowledge of the Cairo Genizah (CG). While I knew of Solomon Schecter's involvement I was unaware of the back story and had no idea about the more recent and ongoing scholarship. The author does a fine job of telling the story and does so in an engaging and entertaining as well as informative style. My only quibble is his assessment of why the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) have gotten a disproportionate amount of attention. He speculates that it is because the CG documents ...more
Feb 29, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a very good book, worth even four stars, if it weren't for the author's extremely weak conclusion. More on that later.

The book tells the story of how the Cairo Genizah was discovered, and reviews the 100+ year history of its research. The author does a good job of introducing the various scholars and researchers as well as telling us about the various obstacles the needed to be overcome. He also has a slight humorous touch, which is always good in a book.

However, pages 226-227 in the con
I thought this was pretty interesting, but it's not quite what I expected. Glickman talks mainly about how the Cairo Genizah was rediscovered and who ended up with which pieces, which is certainly a good story; I think I was really just hoping for more on what impact the actual contents have had on the Jewish community and why they're important, which he does touch on, but not in much depth. I'm also torn on what to think of him as a narrator--when he's in good form, he reads very well, and for ...more
Maggie Anton
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish, judaism
Interesting that both this book and Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza were published almost simultaneously in 2011, so I decided to read them both back to back. Both detail [and I do mean detail] the history of the discovery of the Cairo Geniza, a repository for old Jewish manuscripts. But both books are more a history of the scholars who worked on the geniza manuscripts than on the geniza itself and the amazing things they found there.

One would never know from this book
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish-history
Fascinating retelling of the history of the Cairo Genizah, the 19th century Hebrew manuscript market, the adventurous people who traveled far to buy and find rare manuscripts as well as the scholars who invested so many hours pouring over the treasures of the past. Mark Glickman gives a compelling historical overview bringing scholars like Solomon Schechter to life and paying due homage to the continued efforts of scholars to preserve and interpret the treasures of Jewish daily life and rabbinic ...more
Melody Curtiss
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Extremely readable and fascinating recount of the ancient documents stored away in a temple attic and how they relate to sacred writings and practices of monotheists in present times. The author provides historical context and connects the dots to enlighten the reader on how those writings evolved. Glickman's love for the intricacies and realities of religious development and sense of personal connection as he examines these ancient scrolls, notes and manuscripts is obvious.
Nov 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
The title should really be "The Story of the Men Who Published Work on the Cairo Genizah," because there is very little about the actual Cairo Genizah "treasures" in this book - and the contents are the most interesting part of the story. Hopefully someone will publish that work at a non-scholarly level...we can dream.
Jan 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
An interesting history of an important find of medieval Jewish documents. The book focuses more on the scholars who found and interpreted the documents, with tantalizing descriptions of the subject matter.
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
what a fascinating book.
William Matthies
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Written by the Rabi son of a friend of mine who said there is a bit of Indiana Jones to it. He was right and you will enjoy reading it as much as what you learn.
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fascinating tale of discovery and scholarship.
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish-interest
Loved it, a true adventure story with so much new and interesting information. Very easy to read. Loved the personalities of the scientists involved.
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
The last chapter was by far the most interesting! The problem I had with most of the book was the retelling of information over and over again. I did learn a lot so I'm glad I read it.
Jim Shaffer
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Mar 31, 2011
Corey Oordt Oordt
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Nov 06, 2012
Michelle Radin
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Dec 07, 2011
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Jul 24, 2017
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Jan 31, 2016
Joanne Levy
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