A CBS News story reports on an exciting discovery:
A trove of ancient manuscripts in Hebrew characters rescued from caves in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan is providing the first physical evidence of a Jewish community that thrived there a thousand years ago.
On Thursday Israel’s National Library unveiled the cache of recently purchased documents that run the gamut of life experiences, including biblical commentaries, personal letters and financial records.
Researchers say the “Afghan Genizah” marks the greatest such archive found since the “Cairo Genizah” was discovered in an Egyptian synagogue more than 100 years ago, a vast depository of medieval manuscripts considered to be among the most valuable collections of historical documents ever found. [...]
The Afghan collection gives an unprecedented look into the lives of Jews in ancient Persia in the 11th century. The paper manuscripts, preserved over the centuries by the dry, shady conditions of the caves, include writings in Hebrew, Aramaic, Judea-Arabic and the unique Judeo-Persian language from that era, which was written in Hebrew letters.
Unfortunately, they only acquired “29 out of hundreds of the documents believed to be floating around the world,” but hopefully they’ll be able to get more. I’m not sure what’s intended by the phrase “unique Judeo-Persian language” in the last quoted paragraph; Judeo-Persian is no more and no less unique than any other language (and of course there were comparable Jewish forms of just about every language spoken in areas where there were substantial Jewish communities). At any rate, you can see a selection of images at the library site. Thanks, Paul!