From Cairo to the Cloud: The World of the Cairo Geniza 2018
Distributed by D-Facto Filmstudio, 805-1328 Pender Street W
Vancouver, BC V6E 4T1 Canada
Produced by Michelle Paymar
Directed by Michelle Paymar
DVD, color, 88 min.
College - General Adult
Middle East, Manuscripts, Hebrew
Date Entered: 01/10/2019Reviewed by Lara Herzellah, Research and Information Literacy Librarian, Daniel A. Reed Library, State University of New York at Fredonia
In Jewish tradition, religious texts are not thrown away, but are buried in a special ceremony, similar to a funeral. A Geniza is where these manuscripts are stored until their disposal. This documentary tells the story of one of the world’s most famous Genizas, the Cairo Geniza, which held not only religious manuscripts, but other texts including letters, tax documents, medical prescriptions, marriage contracts, and other everyday documents. This is the largest collection of social history documents on Medieval Jewish culture.
From Cairo to the Cloud chronicles the story of this massive collection, from when it was first discovered and dispersed among seventy different institutions to today, where it has been digitized and is now freely accessible online. The documentary provides an interesting life to this story through interviews with experts, cartoon depictions of historical scenes, and visuals of the texts themselves. It is also amazing to see that these texts are not only in Hebrew, but in Arabic and Yiddish as well. They depict a time of peaceful coexistence between the people of North Africa, something that would be nearly inconceivable today. I highly recommend this film for any academic library that supports a curriculum in history or medieval history.