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Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Genizaby Peter Cole
Synopses & Reviews
A story of buried scholarly treasure that rivals in drama, scope, and importance the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and sheds profound light on nine hundred years of Jewish life.
One May day in 1896, at a dining room table in Cam-bridge, England, a meeting took place between a Romanian-born maverick Jewish intellectual and twin learned Presbyterian Scotswomen, who had assembled to inspect several pieces of rag-paper and parchment. It was the unlikely start to what would prove a remark-able, continent-hopping, century-crossing saga, one that in many ways has revolutionized our sense of what it means to lead a Jewish life.
In Sacred Trash, acclaimed essayist Adina Hoff-man and MacArthur-winning poet and translator Peter Cole tell the story of the recovery from a Cairo geniza (a repository for worn-out texts) of the most vital cache of Hebrew manuscripts ever discovered. Weaving together unforgettable portraits of Solomon Schechter and the other scholar-heroes of this drama with explorations of the medieval documents themselves--letters and poems, wills and marriage contracts, prescriptions, prayers, trousseau lists, bi-bles, money orders, children's primers, rabbinic responsa, amulets, and receipts--Hoffman and Cole present a panoramic view of a vibrant Mediterranean Judaism. Part biography and part meditation on the supreme value the Jewish people has long placed on the written word, Sacred Trash is above all a gripping tale of adventure and redemption.
From the Hardcover edition.
Traces the efforts of two women scholars who in 1896 traveled throughout multiple countries to recover what has become the most vital cache of Hebrew manuscripts ever discovered, in an account that profiles key contributors and explains what the findings reveal about Mediterranean Judaism throughout the past millennium.
About the Author
Adina Hoffmanis the author of House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood and My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century, which was named a best book of 2009 by the Barnes & Noble Review.
Peter Cole’s most recent book of poems is Things on Which I’ve Stumbled. His many volumes of award-winning translations include The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950––1492. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2007.
Hoffman and Cole live, together, in Jerusalem and New Haven.
Table of Contents
Hidden wisdom — Serpents and secrets — All Sirach now — Into Egypt — Sorting — Palimpsests — That nothing be lost — A gallery of heretics — Pieces of the Spanish puzzle — A Mediterranean society.
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