Sunday, February 14, 2010

Genizah Update #5: The Countdown Continues


12 Days …And Counting!

February 8th, 2010

Hello Everyone!

As the Expedition Genizah departure-date approaches, preparations and writing continue at an increasingly feverish pace. I’m getting very excited and, of course, growingly nervous. The fact that I had to deal with a major computer-crash last week didn’t help, but my good friends at HP fixed my machine, and now I’m back on track and eager to share with you some highlights the upcoming adventure.


Last week, I sent some promotional information to the folks at Jewish Lights Publishing, and I also had a telephone conference about the book-cover with their production team. Those discussions and emails added a new and exciting dimension of reality to this project. The book will be about 300 pages long, a six-by-nine inch hardcover, and it will be released this fall.

I even have an ISBN…and ISBN!!! I’ve never had an ISBN before, and having one now is quite the thrill!


I also sent the editor my selection of title “finalists.” She discussed it with “the team,” they weighed in on behalf of one of my choices, I responded, and now we’re getting really close to a decision. It looks as if we are down to three very similar possibilities:

• Longest The Cairo Genizah: Unfolding the Story of the Greatest Literary Treasure Ever Discovered
• Shorter The Cairo Genizah: The Story of the Greatest Literary Treasure Ever Discovered
• Shortest The Cairo Genizah: The Greatest Literary Treasure Ever Discovered

Hmm…I like the brevity of the “shortest,” but I also like the words “unfolding,” and “story.” I’m also reluctant to begin both title and subtitle with “The.”



I am pleased to announce that, during several key moments of our trip, Jacob and I will wear the world’s very first Genizah T-Shirts. Yes, with the help of my younger brother and budding fashion designer, Larry Glickman, we have developed a stunning design for this garment. It is attached as “T-Shirt.pdf”above , and will be silkscreened onto a stonewashed blue background as pictured in “Shirt Example.pdf.” (Despite the similarity of the man in the picture to Jacob and me, he is not related to us, and he will not be accompanying us on our trip.)

For now, I am only having a dozen shirts printed – one for me, one for Jacob, and the others to give as gifts to supporters during the expedition. However, if you are interested in having one for the low, low cost of $20, please let me know, and I’ll arrange for printing after we return. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to organizations preserving the documents of the Cairo Genizah.


Late last night, I received an email from Rabbi John Schechter, the great-grandson of Rabbi Solomon Schechter. He had heard about my book and was interested in speaking with me. Rabbi Schechter serves at a Conservative congregation in New Jersey, and we are arranging a meeting during the New York leg of the expedition.

As it turns out, Rabbi Schechter and I grew up no more than three miles from one another, and during the 1970’s he may have been my camp counselor at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, in Wisconsin. I told him that I was the gangly 13 or 14 year-old with curly brown hair and zits – didn’t he remember me? 

I am looking forward to meeting Rabbi Schechter very much.


• In Cairo, we will be meeting with Dr. Mohamed Hawary, professor of Jewish studies at Ain Shams University (180,000 undergraduates). He is an accomplished scholar, and has done a lot of research using Genizah documents. Here are two interesting articles about him:
o (Focuses on the divisive issue of his stance on Israel, but gives a good sense as to his academic stature and accomplishments.)
o (Press coverage of a fascinating incident involving Dr. Hawary. These articles refer to him as Muhammad al-Hawari.)


On Sunday morning, Jacob and I had a long telephone conference with Michael Strong, a literary agent in New York who will be producing the DVD version of the book. Mike briefed Jacob on camera angles, lighting, sound, choice-of-shots, etc. As expedition cinematographer, Jacob certainly seems to be a Scorsese in-the-making. Or is it a Spielberg? Maybe a Woody Allen…?


Many of you have donated generously to this project, and I appreciate it more than words can say. But unexpected costs seem to be arising every day –a $400 “fee” for photography in the Ben Ezra Synagogue, another photography fee for the Cambridge library, expensive fares to get from London to Cambridge, $300-$400 for a driver in Cairo, etc. I remain in search of funds.

More important, the overall goals of this project are to raise awareness of the treasures of the Cairo Genizah, to help ensure that the documents are properly stored and preserved, and to encourage students and scholars to draw from the deep wells of knowledge they can offer. I am deeply dedicated to these causes; I believe that advancing them is sacred work; and I hope you share my commitment.

Please remember that all funds remaining at the conclusion of this project will be donated to organizations that care for and/or advance our knowledge of the documents of the Cairo Genizah. Please give generously.

You can send your donations to me at my home:

15030 232nd Avenue NE
Woodinville, WA 98077

Thank you!


Rabbi Mark Glickman

P.S. Depending on how my preparations go, this may or may not be my final update before the expedition. Assuming I have internet access, however, you can count on further updates as the trip progresses.

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