‘Why have you forgotten us?… Our splendour has been tarnished, our learning is diminished, and our schools are desolate’

Jewish academies (Yeshiva) in Abbasid Iraq, were seats of learning and the main centres of Jewish law. For donations to the academy, Jews from the diaspora could seek rulings and clarification on legal and religious practice. The author, Sherira Gaon, was the widely respected head of the Academy in Pumbeditha (modern Fallujah). He complains that as people were no longer asking for rulings, the Academy was in decline. Consequently, scholars’ children were turning aside from the study of Jewish law and going into trade.

Pumbeditha, Iraq, c. 970 CE

Hebrew, paper

T-S 13J25.5