LOST BUT FOUND (I)
– Half a Million Fragments of Holy Trash
1896 in Cairo: a giant heap of discarded texts, dating from 870 CE to 19th century, met Rabbi Solomon Schechter when he climbed a ladder and entered the genizah of the Ben Ezra synagogue.
Acting on rumors of a treasure, Schechter travelled to sun-filled Egypt, zooming in on the grey site of the find, the storage room for sacred writings and objects waiting to undergo a formal Jewish burial.
Written by scholars and laymen in many languages, (though mostly in Arabic), on a variety of materials, the collection offers an unparalleled insight into all aspects of Jewish life in the medieval Middle East and North Africa.
I chose to weave the trash pile’s surroundings of dust, walls, the Old City, ancient pyramids, the Nile, and, eventually, a canal far away up north, in Cambridge.
Lost but Found (II)