Attributed to the medieval copyist and artist al-Wasiti, “Wedding Banquet in Sinjar”, completed in 1237 AD, illustration on paper, probably made in Baghdad, Iraq. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, manuscript Arabe, 5847, fol 47 verso.

Join us this spring for the Leon Levy Foundation Lectures in Jewish Material Culture. Miriam Frenkel will deliver three lectures in a series entitled “The Matter of Things: Material Culture in the Medieval Islamicate World.” Lecture 3, “Home and Food: The Jewish Home and the Mediterranean Diet as Reflected in the Geniza,” will take place on Wednesday, February 19, at 6 pm.

Lecture 1, Wednesday, February 5
Lecture 2, Wednesday, February 12
Lecture 3, Wednesday, February 19

Additional support provided by The David Berg Foundation.


This lecture examines household artefacts such as furniture, cooking utensils, storage vessels, bathing and washing amenities, and illumination implements as they appear in various Geniza documents and in contemporary literature including, responsa, travelogues, and poetry. This data will be correlated with archaeological findings. Through these domestic objects the meaning of home for contemporary people is better understood. The lecture will also touch upon food, its preparation, consumption, and cultural significance.


Miriam Frenkel is Associate Professor in the Department of Jewish History and the School of History at the Hebrew University. She is also the Menahem Ben Sasson Chair in Judaism and Islam through the Ages and vice president of the Society for Judeo-Arabic Studies [SJAS.]

Her main fields of research are: Geniza studies, cultural and social history of Medieval Judaism in the lands of Islam, and medieval cultural encounters between Judaism and Islam.

Her book “The Compassionate and Benevolent”: The Leading Elite in the Jewish Community of Alexandria in the Middle Ages (2006) was awarded the Shazzar Prize in 2007.

Frenkel has also published several articles on various aspects of medieval Jewish life under Islam including literacy, poverty, charity, pilgrimage, slavery, and material culture.