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The Genizah and Jewish Liturgy: Past Achievements and a Current Project

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Schechter appreciated the significance of his liturgical finds in the Genizah but important contributions were carlier made in Oxford by Adolf Neubauer, and his nephew, Adolf Büchler. Publication of such fragments progressed in Europe, and leading figures were Ismar Elbogen and Jacob Mann. In the U.S.A., Louis Finkelstein attempted to reconstruct the "original" Second Temple versions of the amidah and the grace after meals. More recently, Naphtali Wieder has analysed hundreds of fragments that permit comparisons of the Palestinian and Babylonian rites while Ezra Fleischer has questioned Joseph Heinemann's theory about the existence of equally valid alternatives of the standard prayers in the talmudic period, and produced a major monograph on Eretz-Israel customs. Note should be taken of variant methodologies, of the contributions of younger scholars, and of new theories inspired by a century of Genizah finds. One of the remaining questions, being dealt with by Reif, assesses how the physical medium has affected the development of content. Recent research traces how the single leaf evolved into the codex, how the private individual became the professional scribe, and how brief and provisional notes turned into formal, and virtually canonized, prayer-books.


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Affiliations: 1: University of Cambridge


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