Rabbanite manuscripts in Karaite hands: Findings from the Crimean genizot and libraries

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This article is an attempt to reconstruct the contents of the two genizot in the Rabbanite synagogue of Kaffa (Crimean Peninsula) from the Genoese to the early Ottoman period, and the manuscripts in the possession of this community. Kaffa was located at a cultural crossroads for Jews from Byzantium, Persia, the Middle East, Italy, Spain and Eastern Europe who settled there, bringing manuscripts from these lands. Following the relocation of the Kaffa Rabbanite Jews to Karasubazar in the last decades of the fifteenth century, a considerable number of such manuscripts found their way into this community's genizah and its library. The identification of these early Kaffa materials sheds light on the subjects of Jewish intellectual interests prevalent in medieval Crimea and the Black Sea region, common patterns of use of books by Karaites and Rabbanites, the existence of public and private libraries, and of book exchange processes between the Crimea and other lands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-356
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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