In 1896, Talmudic scholar Solomon Schechter entered the sacred storeroom - or Geniza - of an ancient synagogue in Cairo and discovered a vast collection of manuscripts that has revolutionized our understanding of Jewish history and illuminated a thousand years of vibrant Jewish life in the heart of the Islamic world.
Composed of religious texts and medical prescriptions, literary treasures and love letters, marriage contracts and business reports, magical amulets and children’s drawings, the Cairo Geniza illuminates every aspect of society, from the impoverished beggar to the celebrated scholar. Among the most striking of the Geniza’s many discoveries are hand-written drafts written by Moses Maimonides himself, the legendary 12th century rabbi, scholar, philosopher and physician.
Larger, more varied and, arguably, more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls, the half million fragments of the Geniza open a window into a vanished civilization that
illuminates over a thousand years of Jewish, Christian and Moslem life at the heart of the Islamic world, and testify to a “golden age” of relative religious tolerance unimaginable today.
After their discovery, the documents were dispersed among seventy different libraries and collections world-wide. Today, however, thanks to an unprecedented international effort, these archives have been digitally re-united. After a thousand years of silence, the Geniza has journeyed from Cairo to the cloud where it is freely accessible online to everyone, everywhere.
From Cairo to the Cloud tells this extraordinary story, the vital society it reveals, and the efforts taken by an international consortium of archivists and digital experts to bring these ancient manuscripts into the modern world.