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Sacred Trash

The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza

Adina Hoffman & Peter Cole

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

May 02, 2011 – 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.
Sacred Trash
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  • $15.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: Apr 05, 2011
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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