A Private Geniza of the Wiesbaden Area

One hundred and sixty-seven years after the death of Jewish grain merchant Samuel Jesse (1776 – 1837), numerous ceremonial objects were discovered when an old house was renovated – including a tin hand-washing beaker [used by Levites], and palm fronds (Lulav) blessed at the Sukkoth celebration as well as numerous documents in German and Yiddish. They had been hidden in a house in Delkenheim / Wiesbaden,under the attic’s brick roof.

As a member of a family of Levites, Samuel Jessel “buried” them in the attic – according to the Jewish tradition that papers on which the name of God is written must not be destroyed. The Delkenheim geniza differs from the majority of genizas that have been discovered in separate spaces under the roofs of synagogues, containing mostly religious texts. The Delkenheim geniza consists of non-religious documents – for instance, a safe-conduct certificate, marriage contracts and legal decisions concerning the family’s business activities. It has not yet been possible to analyze all the documents in this large collection.

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