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1 Beaverton Judaism- Scripture Commentary

Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza

by

Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza Cover

ISBN13: 9780805242584
ISBN10: 0805242589
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD FINALIST

Part of the Jewish Encounter series

One May day in 1896, at a dining-room table in Cambridge, 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 remarkable, continent-hopping, century-crossing saga, and one that in many ways has revolutionized our sense of what it means to lead a Jewish life.

 

In Sacred Trash, MacArthur-winning poet and translator Peter Cole and acclaimed essayist Adina Hoffman tell the story of the retrieval from an Egyptian geniza, or repository for worn-out texts, of the most vital cache of Jewish manuscripts ever discovered. This tale of buried scholarly treasure weaves together unforgettable portraits of Solomon Schechter and the other heroes of this drama with explorations of the medieval documents themselves—letters and poems, wills and marriage contracts, Bibles, money orders, fiery dissenting tracts, fashion-conscious trousseaux lists, prescriptions, petitions, and mysterious magical charms. Presenting a panoramic view of nine hundred years of vibrant Mediterranean Judaism, Hoffman and Cole bring modern readers into the heart of this little-known trove, whose contents have rightly been dubbed “the Living Sea Scrolls.” 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.

Review:

"Hoffman and Cole deliver a riveting true account following a series of scholars in the late 1890s who attempt to unveil pieces of original scrolls from the Sirach, a book that dates to approximately 200 BCE. The race beings as a adventurous Scottish sisters Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson investigate an Egyptian repository, or 'geniza,' a 'barely translatable Hebrew term' ultimately meaning 'hoard' or 'hidden treasure.' What originally appeared to be little more than a dusty room filled with countless barely-legible documents, was actually host to numerous ancient Hebrew texts. While some were benign, like shopping lists, others were soon proven to have been written by the infamous Ben Sira around 175 BCE. It takes no time for the friendly rivalry between the Scottish sisters and Solomon Schecter to turn sour, as all involved vie for the same accomplishments and notoriety. It isn't long before Schecter stations himself in Cairo and devotes all his time to researching the original geniza, along with a second genzia that was discovered nearby. Hoffman and Cole offer an invigorating account of success coupled with eye opening documentation that was nearly left to rot in the bowels of an abandoned Egyptian building. Photos. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD FINALIST

One May day in 1896, at a dining-room table in Cambridge, 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 remarkable, continent-hopping, century-crossing saga, and one that in many ways has revolutionized our sense of what it means to lead a Jewish life.

 

In Sacred Trash, MacArthur-winning poet and translator Peter Cole and acclaimed essayist Adina Hoffman tell the story of the retrieval from an Egyptian geniza, or repository for worn-out texts, of the most vital cache of Jewish manuscripts ever discovered. This tale of buried scholarly treasure weaves together unforgettable portraits of Solomon Schechter and the other heroes of this drama with explorations of the medieval documents themselves—letters and poems, wills and marriage contracts, Bibles, money orders, fiery dissenting tracts, fashion-conscious trousseaux lists, prescriptions, petitions, and mysterious magical charms. Presenting a panoramic view of nine hundred years of vibrant Mediterranean Judaism, Hoffman and Cole bring modern readers into the heart of this little-known trove, whose contents have rightly been dubbed “the Living Sea Scrolls.” 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.

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About the Author

Sacred Trash is a small masterpiece. The romance of Hebrew scholarship has never been so vividly conveyed. This book is extraordinary in characterization, thought, and prose style. It will teach common readers, Jewish and gentile, how much spiritual tradition owes to the greatest scholars. This teaching comes through delight.”

—Harold Bloom

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

jberrett, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by jberrett)
Just an amazing book, beautifully constructed as well as stuffed with learning and astonishingly educated oddballs. Clearly meant as a metaphorical recreation of the geniza itself and successful in that endeavor--a story that creates a Borgesian sense of life and literature interwoven, except in reality. The geniza was a repository for the Cairo Jewish community's unacceptable texts of all sorts, which could not simply be destroyed (the underlying theological notion of the eternal life of the written word prohibiting that) and thus were interred behind a wall in the women's part of the synagogue, then rediscovered several different times in the 1890s, bound out from Egypt in one of those resource-grabs the empires were so good at (no mention of Zahi Hawass here, so maybe he doesn't see this as part of Egypt's cultural patrimony), and then slowly and painstakingly (continuing to this day) reconstituted by a corps of ludicrously learned scholars, many but not all Brits, with various degrees of comfort within the English class system. (Most were Jewish, with a few philo-Semites thrown in.) The results have been revelatory for Jewish religious, cultural, political, and social history, and the authors have fun with their various scholars' compulsions and oddities while also respecting the magnitude of their effort and achievement. Best part: Jewish mothers complaining their sons don't write and don't call, in the 13th century.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780805242584
Author:
Hoffman, Adina
Publisher:
Schocken Books Inc
Author:
Hoffman
Author:
Adina
Author:
Cole, Peter
Subject:
Judaism - History
Subject:
Jews -- History -- 70-1789.
Subject:
Jewish - General
Subject:
Jewish
Publication Date:
20110531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
BandW ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.8 x 6.33 x 1.1 in 1.2 lb

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Religion » Judaism » History
Religion » Judaism » Jewish History
Religion » Judaism » Scripture and Commentary

Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza Used Hardcover
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$10.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Schocken Books Inc - English 9780805242584 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Hoffman and Cole deliver a riveting true account following a series of scholars in the late 1890s who attempt to unveil pieces of original scrolls from the Sirach, a book that dates to approximately 200 BCE. The race beings as a adventurous Scottish sisters Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson investigate an Egyptian repository, or 'geniza,' a 'barely translatable Hebrew term' ultimately meaning 'hoard' or 'hidden treasure.' What originally appeared to be little more than a dusty room filled with countless barely-legible documents, was actually host to numerous ancient Hebrew texts. While some were benign, like shopping lists, others were soon proven to have been written by the infamous Ben Sira around 175 BCE. It takes no time for the friendly rivalry between the Scottish sisters and Solomon Schecter to turn sour, as all involved vie for the same accomplishments and notoriety. It isn't long before Schecter stations himself in Cairo and devotes all his time to researching the original geniza, along with a second genzia that was discovered nearby. Hoffman and Cole offer an invigorating account of success coupled with eye opening documentation that was nearly left to rot in the bowels of an abandoned Egyptian building. Photos. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD FINALIST

One May day in 1896, at a dining-room table in Cambridge, 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 remarkable, continent-hopping, century-crossing saga, and one that in many ways has revolutionized our sense of what it means to lead a Jewish life.

 

In Sacred Trash, MacArthur-winning poet and translator Peter Cole and acclaimed essayist Adina Hoffman tell the story of the retrieval from an Egyptian geniza, or repository for worn-out texts, of the most vital cache of Jewish manuscripts ever discovered. This tale of buried scholarly treasure weaves together unforgettable portraits of Solomon Schechter and the other heroes of this drama with explorations of the medieval documents themselves—letters and poems, wills and marriage contracts, Bibles, money orders, fiery dissenting tracts, fashion-conscious trousseaux lists, prescriptions, petitions, and mysterious magical charms. Presenting a panoramic view of nine hundred years of vibrant Mediterranean Judaism, Hoffman and Cole bring modern readers into the heart of this little-known trove, whose contents have rightly been dubbed “the Living Sea Scrolls.” 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.

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