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Adult Learning: with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Professor Jennifer Grayson

Sunday, March 1, 2020 5 Adar 5780

11:15 AM - 12:30 PMMultipurpose Room

For centuries, Jews in medieval Cairo deposited their used writings in their genizah, a storage chamber for sacred books that are no longer useable. Egypt’s dry climate ensured that these papers did not disintegrate. While the vast majority of the roughly 200,000 manuscripts found in the Cairo Genizah consists of bible and Talmud manuscripts, roughly 5,000 “documents” have survived that give us insight into the daily lives of medieval Jews. I hope to demonstrate how the study of a single document from the Cairo Genizah--a marriage contract from the 11th century--can inspire us to think creatively about the boundaries of the Jewish community—past, present, and future.


Jennifer Grayson serves as Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Assistant Professor of History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati and at Xavier University in Cincinnati. She researches Arabic-speaking Jewish communities in the medieval Islamic world. Dr. Grayson's current book project traces changes in the relationship between Jewish government officials, the Babylonian geonim, and the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad between the tenth and twelfth centuries. Dr. Grayson holds a Ph.D. in History from The Johns Hopkins University (2017); an M.Phil. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Cambridge (2013), where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar; and an A.B. in History and Late Antique Cultures from Brown University (2011).

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