Israel’s National Library Unveils Ancient Afghan Manuscripts

Five images of manuscripts found among a trove of ancient manuscripts in Hebrew rescued from caves in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan. The manuscripts provide the first physical evidence of a Jewish community that thrived there 1,000 years ago. On Thursday, Israel’s National Library unveiled the cache of recently purchased documents, which include Torah commentaries, personal letters and financial records. Researchers say the “Afghan Genizah” is the greatest such archive found since the Cairo Genizah was discovered in an Egyptian synagogue more than 100 years ago. The Afghan collection gives an unprecedented glimpse of the lives of Jews in ancient Persia in the 11th century. The paper manuscripts, preserved over the centuries by the dry, shady conditions in the caves, include writings in Hebrew, Aramaic, Judea-Arabic and the unique Judeo-Persian language of that era, which was written in Hebrew letters. (AP Photo/The National Library of Israel)
Five images of manuscripts found among a trove of ancient manuscripts in Hebrew rescued from caves in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan. The manuscripts provide the first physical evidence of a Jewish community that thrived there 1,000 years ago. On Thursday, Israel’s National Library unveiled the cache of recently purchased documents, which include Torah commentaries, personal letters and financial records. Researchers say the “Afghan Genizah” is the greatest such archive found since the Cairo Genizah was discovered in an Egyptian synagogue more than 100 years ago. The Afghan collection gives an unprecedented glimpse of the lives of Jews in ancient Persia in the 11th century. The paper manuscripts, preserved over the centuries by the dry, shady conditions in the caves, include writings in Hebrew, Aramaic, Judea-Arabic and the unique Judeo-Persian language of that era, which was written in Hebrew letters. (AP Photo/The National Library of Israel)