Cairo Genizah Collection
The Cairo Genizah Collection is a publicly accessible research collection housed in the Cambridge University Library. Its collection of manuscripts contains information on Jewish history, religion, and culture.
The Cairo Genizah Collection is an enormous collection of medieval and early modern Jewish manuscripts, formed principally from the Taylor-Schechter Collection of more than 193,000 fragments removed from the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, Old Cairo, by the Cambridge scholar Solomon Schechter in 1896–7. Further fragments have been added from the Lewis-Gibson Collection (jointly owned with the University of Oxford) and the Jacques Mosseri Genizah Collection, currently on loan in Cambridge. The material has been cleaned, conserved, and digitised. It is accessible both online and for consultation and viewing in person.
The collection contains a broad array of texts, encompassing all genres of literature, from sacred to profane, as well as a remarkable documentary archive of letters, legal deeds and other writings of everyday life, allowing us to reconstruct in great detail the literary, economic and social history of the Jews of Egypt over centuries. Particular treasures include not only the earliest known copies of many Jewish sacred texts, but also the autograph writings of major medieval figures such as Moses Maimonides and Judah ha-Levi.
The collection can be accessed for research purposes in the Manuscripts Reading Room by holders of a University Library reader’s card. More information about the University Library readers card can be found on the Cambridge University Library website, as can University Library opening hours.
Members of the general public can view the collection as part of a pre-booked visit, hosted by a member of the Genizah Research Unit. These visits can be arranged Monday-Friday during office hours (9.30–5.30) and Saturdays and Bank Holiday access is also sometimes possible. These visits should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance, and the collection can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on access requirements can be found on the collection’s website.
The Cairo Genizah collection is almost completely digitised, and can be accessed online via The Friedberg Jewish Manuscript Society web portal following a free registration.