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New Discoveries for Spertus Students

New Discoveries for Spertus Students

Medieval Fragments, New Discoveries for Spertus Students 
Jewish Studies students study with expert on Cairo Genizah

At Spertus Institute, we believe passionately that the wisdom of Jewish thought and the richness of Jewish history are critical to Judaism and Jewish society today.

Jewish Studies is an interdisciplinary academic discipline centered on the study of Jews and Judaism. Combining history, religious studies, sociology, and political science, it explores Jewish texts, cultures, languages, and experiences over three millennia. At Spertus, we have offered Jewish Studies programs for close to nine decades, with distinguished Spertus faculty and alumni influencing the field around the world.

Our Jewish Studies courses take place at twice-yearly seminars and through a variety of online formats. Our students, pursuing the degrees of MA in Jewish Studies, Doctor of Science in Jewish Studies, and Doctor of Hebrew Letters, grapple with Jewish ideas in the service of their personal and professional advancement. 

Spertus Jewish Studies students study with some of the leading scholars in the field, including those breaking new ground in their areas of expertise.

An example this year is Dr. Ben Outhwaite, Head of the Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge University and author of Discarded History: the Genizah of Medieval Cairo.

Dr. Outhwaite, who holds a BA, MPhil, and PhD from Christ College, Cambridge, has been researching manuscripts in the Cambridge Genizah Collection for nearly two decades. His research revolves around Hebrew and its use in the Middle Ages, as well as the documentary history of the communities who deposited manuscripts into the Cairo Genizah.

His work has been funded by the AHRC, the British Academy, the Wellcome Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among others, and he is a series editor for Brill’s Cambridge Genizah Studies series.

Called “a window on the medieval world,” the Genizah Collection consists of 193,000 manuscript fragments from the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, Old Cairo, brought to Cambridge by Solomon Schechter and Charles Taylor. Research has led to important discoveries about Jewish religious, communal, and personal life; Hebrew and Arabic literary traditions; and relations between Muslims, Jews and Christians from as early as the ninth and tenth centuries CE.

With Dr. Outhwaite in a seminar course this year, Spertus students will explore some of the Genizah’s most remarkable texts and uncover what they tell us about Jewish history and the cultural dynamics of medieval Cairo.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Image at left

Solomon Schechter with fragments from the Cairo Genizah, Cambridge University, 1898.