Sunday, July 06, 2014

Moroccan Jews' history goes online

A US academic stumbled upon a Geniza, or store, of  Jewish papers and documents in a Moroccan synagogue. The collection, revealing important Jewish history, is being translated and digitised, The Tablet reports:

Kosansky got permission from the synagogue to remove some of the documents from the genizah, sorting through the documents and donating those he felt contained historical and cultural relevance to the Jewish Museum of Casablanca, Morocco. The collection at the museum consists of documents both sacred and secular from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries; items range from canonical Jewish texts to community records and public notices.

Something that stood out to Kosansky was the geographical breadth of the documents he found. “We have texts from Vienna, Paris, Jerusalem, Constantine, Algiers, Tunisia,” Kosansky explained. “This collection allows us to better appreciate how much modern Jewish Moroccan history was embedded in global history. There are these important Jewish networks of learning, commerce, travel that linked Jewish Morocco to Jewish communities throughout the Mediterranean Basin and all over the world.”

But Kosansky’s work didn’t end with the physical preservation of these documents. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Kosansky created a digital archive of this historical collection. The Rabat Genizah Project, which launched online last month and is currently in its preliminary stages, provides images of some the documents found in the Moroccan synagogue.

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