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al-Wuḥsha

(683 words)

Author(s): Miriam Frenkel
Karīma bint ʿAmmār, known as Al-Wuḥsha al-Dallāla, was a wealthy Jewish businesswoman in Fustat at the end of the eleventh century. She conducted wide-ranging business ventures and also acted as a pawnbroker. Her stormy biography, reconstructed from several Geniza documents, reveals an independent and assertive woman deeply involved in the social and economic life of the Jewish community. Karīma bint ʿAmmār, known by the name Al-Wuḥsha al-Dallāla (dated documents: 1095–1104), was a well-to-do Jewish merchant and pawnbroker in Fustat. She is also the s…

Ramla

(1,182 words)

Author(s): Miriam Frenkel
Ramla (Ramleh; Ar. al-Ramla), a town near Jerusalem built by the Umayyads in the eighth century, was the capital of the province of Palestine. Its Jewish community was affiliated with the Yeshiva of Palestine, but a faction attempted to establish connections with Babylonian yeshivot. Ramla was a pilgrimage station and a center of book copying. Ramla (also Ramleh; Ar. al-Ramla), a town 40km/25mi west-northwest of Jerusalem, was founded at the beginning of the eighth century by Sulaymān (d. 717), brother of the Umayyad caliph al-Walīd (r. 705–715), wh…

Education

(6,315 words)

Author(s): Miriam Frenkel | Rachel Simon | Aron Rodrigue
1. Medieval Period The education of the young in the medieval society documented in the Cairo Geniza was basically aimed at preparing them to integrate as early and efficiently as possible into the world of adults. This is clearly reflected in some eleventh- and twelfth-century halakhic monographs that discuss the passage from childhood to maturity. They present the early years of human life as a prolonged ascent toward the peak of full adulthood; the stages preceding adulthood are only important as  preparatory steps toward the goal. Religious studies, however, were lifelong and…

Alexandria

(2,461 words)

Author(s): Miriam Frenkel | Norman A. Stillman | Tomer Levi
1. Medieval Alexandria (Ar. al-Iskandariyya), on the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the western edge of the Nile Delta, is the principal port city of Egypt and was the capital until the Arab conquest, when it was replaced by Fustat.  There was a substantial Jewish community in the city from the third century B.C.E.  (According to Josephus, Jews already settled there at the time of Alexander's founding of the city.)  Alexandria became the principal center of Hellenistic Jewish culture in Antiquity.  It was there that the Bible was translated into Greek (the…

Cairo Geniza

(12,956 words)

Author(s): Stefan Reif | Miriam Frenkel | Meira Polliack | Ben Outhwaite | Esther-Miriam Wagner
1. General Survey and History of Discovery Source " Geniza" is a convenient one-word title to describe an extensive and unique collection of medieval manuscripts, mainly in Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, and Aramaic, and usually written on vellum and paper, that has illuminated virtually every aspect of life in and around the eastern Mediterranean areas of the Islamic world a thousand years ago. The collection, consisting of well in excess of 200,000 items (written on almost half a million folios) was amassed in …