Oxford in talks with Friedberg Genizah Project

Talks are about participating in initiative to match dispersed fragments of documents from Cairo Genizah.

June 2, 2013 23:08
1 minute read.
Maimonides’ Commentary on the Mishna in his own hand, is from the Lewis-Gibson Genizah Collection.

Manuscript Rashi script old looking 370. (photo credit: Courtesy of the Governors of Westminster College, )

Oxford is in talks with Israel’s Friedberg Genizah Project about participating in an initiative to match widely dispersed fragments of documents found in the Cairo Genizah a century ago, a spokeswoman for the university’s Bodleian Library told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.

Head of communications Suzanne de la Rosa said, “Here at Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, we have digitized all of our Genizah fragments which are freely available online. We are happy to participate in scholarly projects using the collection.”

She was responding to a statement by Prof. Ya’acov Choueka of the Genizah Project to the effect that Oxford has been unwilling to provide scans of its manuscripts, which Choueka says are incredibly important to his work.

Talks with the university “did not come to a happy end,” Choueka told the Post on Thursday.

The Cairo Geniza was the document storehouse of the Ben-Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, a suburb of Cairo until it was swallowed by the Egyptian capital’s urban sprawl. The documents there were in large part carted off to England but significant collections are also held in libraries and universities around the globe.

The Genizah Project, in collaboration with Tel Aviv University, which has donated use of it’s computing infrastructure, says that it has achieved a breakthrough in matching disparate pieces of manuscript together using high speed computational analysis.

However, de la Rosa said that the Israeli computer scientist did not accurately represent the position of her institution.

“The Bodleian Libraries have been approached by the Friedberg Genizah Project and we are still in negotiations with them about participation in this project,” she wrote.

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