The Cairo Genizah
Ben Outhwaite, Michelle Paymar
Chair: Raquel Ukeles
For a millennium the Jewish community of Old Cairo placed their old books and other writings, from marriage contracts and love letters, to children’s drawings and even drafts from the hands of Maimonides, in a genizah, or storeroom, of the Ben Ezra Synagogue. In 1896 Dr Solomon Schechter, a Talmudic scholar, was granted permission by the Jewish community of Egypt to take all he liked to Cambridge. He ‘liked it all’ and took 193,000 manuscripts. This treasure trove from Cairo has had a seismic impact on our understanding of Jewish history. Ben Outhwaite, head of the Cambridge University Library Genizah Research Unit joins film-maker Michelle Paymar – whose breath-taking film From Cairo to the Cloud tells the story of how the content of the Genizah, dispersed around the globe, has become accessible to all – in examining the legacy of this extraordinary discovery.
In Partnership with the National Library of Israel
Dr Ben Outhwaite has been Head of the Genizah Research Unit in Cambridge University Library since 2006, having worked for the previous seven years as a Genizah researcher.
Michelle Paymar is an award-winning filmmaker. Her independent work has screened at festivals around the world and she has extensive credits as a director and writer of documentary and non-fiction television programs for NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CBC, MTV, Travel, Discovery, History, and other major broadcasters. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Directing from the American Film Institute and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley.
Raquel Ukeles is curator of the Islam and Middle East collections of the National Library of Israel.