Tuesday, July 12, 2005,11:48 AM
Book Review - The Genizah at the House of Shepher
I recently read The Genizah at the House of Shepher by Tamar Yellin. It was a very different type of book than those I usually read - very slow, but rich in the unfolding of a story.

The main story focuses on a Jewish women who although she doesn't really follow the faith teaches on religious and Biblical writings in England. She travels to Jerusalem to visit family and in the process discovers her family's history. Her present day story weaves in with the stories of four generations of her family. Part of that history is how the genizah (trove of old (unwanted?) documents) came to exist in the attic of the Shepher house. Right before her arrival an old codex of scripture was discovered. Fights over who it belongs to as well as its true nature (is it a cheap fraud or the accurate variant of scripture) frame her time in Jerusalem.

The book is a good commentary on story and the discovery of truth (if it is possible). One is faced with commonly accepted knowledge, but the discovery of evidence to the contrary causes one to reevaluate how one perceives the world. Such evidence can change ones memories, relationships, and faith. The book also is a vivid look at Jewish culture during the past 150 years. The author based some of the stories on her own family and it was an enlightening experience to read about the common Jewish life.

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