The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Jan 04, 2013
 

Ancient Afghan papers shed light on Jewish life

 
 

JERUSALEM (AFP) - A cache of 1,000-year-old documents written by the Jewish community in Afghanistan and unveiled in Jerusalem on Thursday sheds unprecedented light on the mediaeval Jewish community in central Asia.

"This is the first time we have a large collection of documents representing the culture of the Jews who lived there" at the beginning of the 11th century, said academic director of the National Library of Israel, Professor Haggai Ben-Shammai.

The collection was discovered by chance in a cave inhabited by foxes some two years ago in northern Afghanistan.

The Afghan "Geniza," the Hebrew term for ritual Jewish disposal of documents with religious significance which cannot be thrown out but must be buried, contains hundreds of papers currently held by collectors and dealers around the world.