A Tantalizing Find from the Jews of Medieval Afghanistan

A letter in Judeo-Persian dealing with financial and family matters / Afghan Genizah collection at the National Library of Israel via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Samuel Thrope / 01.07.2016 Writer and Translator Based in Jerusalem In 1946, the French philologist André Dupont-Sommer published the first Jewish tombstone inscription from Firozkoh in Afghanistan. Dated between the[…]

An Archaeological Dig in Israel Provides Clues to How Feasting Became an Important Ritual

LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Natalie Munro / 12.15.2017 Professor of Anthropology University of  Connecticut This holiday season millions of families will come together to celebrate their respective festivals and engage in myriad rituals. These may include exchanging gifts, singing songs, giving thanks, and most importantly, preparing and consuming the holiday feast. Archaeological evidence shows that[…]

The True Meaning of Hannukah – Jewish Survival

Shutterstock By Dr. Alan Avery-Peck / 12.07.2017 Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies College of the Holy Cross Beginning on the evening of Dec. 12, Jews will celebrate the eight-day festival of Hanukkah, perhaps the best-known and certainly the most visible Jewish holiday. While critics sometimes identify Christmas as promoting the prevalence in America today of[…]

The Altneuschul, Prague: Medieval Jewish Synagogue Architecture

Altneushul, Prague (photo: Øyvind Holmstad, CC BY-SA 3.0) The Old New Synagogue or Altneuschul, situated in Josefov, Prague, is Europe’s oldest active synagogue.[1] It is also the oldest surviving medieval synagogue of twin-nave design. By Dr. Carol Herselle Krinsky / 09.18.2017 Professor of Art History New York University In architecture, there is often a dominant mode of design in a given country or region at[…]

Jewish Sources in the Narrative of Abraham in the ‘General estoria’

San Fernando Valley Credit: Oakshade, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. David A. Wacks / 05.24.2017 Professor of Spanish Department of Romance Languages University of Oregon I wrote about the influence of Jewish exegesis in the development of fictionality, that is, those aspects of prose fiction that serve to enhance the as-if function of fiction and make possible the suspension of disbelief required[…]

The God of Israel: An Ancient People’s Growing Definition, Identification, and Understanding

Dome of the Rock and Wailing Wall, Jerusalem / Photo by Peter Mulligan, Creative Commons By Dr. Michael W. Palmer / 12.09.2010 That Israel’s understanding of God changed over time is not a controversial claim. The biblical texts record significant changes very clearly. From Henotheism to Monotheism The twelve gods of the Greek Olympic pantheon with[…]

‘Discarded History’ Exhibition Lifts the Lid on 1,000 Years of Medieval History

From the collection / Cambridge University Library Treasures from the world’s largest and most important collection of medieval Jewish manuscripts – chronicling 1,000 years of history in Old Cairo – have gone on display in Cambridge today for a six-month-long exhibition at Cambridge University Library. 04.27.2017 Discarded History: The Genizah of Medieval Cairo opens to[…]