More about the Cairo Geniza
The Cairo Geniza is a collection larger, more varied and, arguably, more significant than the fabled Dead Sea Scrolls. It is not only the largest cache of Jewish history ever found, it is a window into a vanished civilization, with over half a million manuscript fragments illuminating over a thousand years of Jewish, Christian and Moslem life in the heart of the Islamic world.
It is an accidental archive of unprecedented diversity, including religious texts and medical prescriptions, literary treasures and love letters, marriage contracts and business reports, magical amulets and children’s drawings.
Manuscripts emerge from every segment of society, from the impoverished beggar to the celebrated scholar. Among the most breathtaking of the Geniza’s many discoveries are hand-written drafts penned by Moses Maimonides himself, the legendary 12th century rabbi, scholar, philosopher and physician to the Sultan’s court.
Over a millennium since it’s discovery, the Geniza remains acutely relevant. Documents from its 10th to 13th century “golden age” testify to a period of relative religious tolerance nearly unimaginable today. It was an era in which nearly ninety percent of the Jewish people lived in Islamic lands. Although the status and security of non-Moslems varied over time and Jews, Christians, and others were subject to various forms of discrimination and periodic violence, the Geniza reveals a deeply enmeshed religious co-existence in which non-Moslems could generally flourish.
That co-existence nurtured a complex and rich society that traded goods and ideas from India to Spain, created a vibrant, hi-tech, and riotously colorful world, and initiated advances in every aspect of culture, science, philosophy, medicine, and theology. In many ways, the Geniza reflects a world remarkably similar to our own.
After they were discovered, the documents in the Geniza were dispersed among seventy different libraries and collections all over the world. Today, thanks to an unprecedented international effort, the Geniza archives have been digitally re-united. After a thousand years of silence, the documents have journeyed from Cairo to the cloud where they are freely accessible online to everyone, everywhere.
From Cairo to the Cloud is the first documentary feature about the Cairo Geniza and the stunningly vital society it reveals.