When Solomon Schechter published his opus magnum, the co-edited volume of The Wisdom of Ben Sira, in 1899, he took the trouble to express his gratitude towards one Reginald Q. Henriques for his help in the past and still ongoing. This article attempts to answer the question: who was this Mr. Henriques and what was the nature of his connection to Schechter? Using previously unpublished archival evidence, this question is explored in depth, as well as the question of why Schechter chose to acknowledge this individual precisely at that point. It also provides an in-depth account, together with transcriptions of original letters, of the activities of the various genizah manuscript collectors operating in Cairo during the late 1890s and the unspoken race to recover the original Hebrew version of the Book of Ben Sira. These activities are viewed against the backdrop of an all-pervasive scholarly culture that was critical of post-biblical Judaism, as well as prevailing Cairene attitudes and behaviors towards those engaged in the recovery and export of antiquities, and the varying (often arbitrary) authorizations and restrictions exercised by Cairo’s European and Egyptian administrators. Finally, it takes a closer look at the contents of today’s Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection at Cambridge University Library in an attempt to discover greater details about its exact provenance.

Author Biography & Related Information

Rebecca Jefferson is Head of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida. She has worked for the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit in Cambridge University Library. She researches the history of the Cairo Genizah Collections.


4 typos on p. 27, 33, 36, 43. February 4, 2018; missing text on p. 24. February 12, 2018.

Author Biography

Rebecca Jefferson is the Head of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida. She previously worked as the bibliographer for the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection at Cambridge University Library. She holds a doctorate in medieval Hebrew from the University of Cambridge, and she has published numerous articles dealing with the history and provenance of the Cairo Genizah manuscripts.

1069-4.tif (2795 kB)
Image of Reginald Q. Henriques

Letter from Henriques Company.jpg (3702 kB)
Image of Henriques & Henriques letter

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.