Return to homepage

Bookmark This Site
Search our site
Send this page to a friendIncrease Font
Page DownBottom

Share this page

To buy a copy, click on the book.
Important dates

This Month...

Editor's Comment
Michael looks at:
Farewell, Shalom and Adieu

An Open Letter from Abba to His Family

Enough With The Political Finger-Pointing!

Revisiting the Haggadah

Eddy's Recipe List
Victoria Sponge

Book Review List

The Outspeaker
Encouraging violence is never correct

Good times and bad times with Batya

Nathan Weissler
What my friendship with Michael Hanna-Fein meant to me

Marjorie Wolfe
An Interview with Paul Reiser

BC's Backlot
The Last Shalom

This And That
My Treasure Chest

Three Symbols of Passover


Lynn Ruth Miller
How we all became part of a bigger story

Mel Yahre
A few words for my friend

Eddy's Thoughts
Don't let life flutter by

The Bear Facts
How I found Michael

The Genizah at the House of Shepher 
by: Tamar Yellin  

In the attic of the Shepher house at Kiriat Shoshan in Jerusalem, aging paper turns to dust. The trash and treasures of three generations of the family tumble into chaos.

In this genizah, an accidental find is made. It is a book, a codex, a bound manuscript of the Torah that doesn’t precisely match the accepted version of the Torah today.

Is this a national treasure? Will it change the fate and fortunes of the Shepher family? Does it even belong to them?

Shulamit Shepher was born and raised in England, and is a Biblical studies scholar and professor. As a child, she spent summers in the house at Kiriat Shoshan. Her life since has been a string of opportunities she never could commit to: a career as a singer and marriage to the man who may have been the love of her life. She’s never stopped wondering if she’s wasted her life.

Her great-grandfather, Reb Shalom Shepher, was a Torah prodigy in his youth and a scribe. He left his home in Skidel, Lithuania, in 1858 to live in Jerusalem. His son built the house at Kiriat Shoshan. His grandson, Amnon, Shulamit’s father, left Palestine for England in 1938.

As he grew older, Reb Shepher became obsessed with calculating the date when the Messiah would come. He became convinced that he had to travel to find the ten lost tribes of Israel and invite them to join their brethren in Palestine before the Messiah arrived.

When he returns to Jerusalem, gaunt and in ill-health, he claims to have found the lost tribes. He brings back a book that they have given him, the Codex, which gets stored in the genizah and forgotten.

The finding of the Codex sets off a storm in the family. Is it valuable enough to end their financial woes? Which of them really owns it? Should it be given to the State of Israel as a national treasure without compensation?

At the borders of the family debate is a man named Gideon. He approaches Shulamit and tries to enlist her support for his claim that the Codex was taken from his family by Reb Shepher during his travels and now should be returned to them.

A relationship deepens between Shulamit and Gideon. But it requires Shulamit to decide whether Gideon’s claims are valid and whether she should make a commitment to help him acquire the Codex.

The 130-year saga of the Shepher family echoes the family history of author Tamar Yellin. Yellin was born in Northern England to a Polish immigrant mother and a third generation Jerusalemite. She studied Hebrew and Arabic at Oxford. This is her first novel.

This is a beautifully written book. The story often bogs down with characters mired in indecisiveness and an inability to move forward. Many of them seem to be turning into dust like the debris in the genizah. While Shulamit ultimately finds her way, the process at times seems almost magical.

© Jeannette M. Hartman 2010

Submitted by: Jeannette M. Hartman
Go back to the list

Our magazine

Michael answers almost all of them.

Consult him about religious and spiritual issues

News article of interest to our community.


Tshatshkes, shmates and other shlok for the discriminating shopper.

Join the Gantseh Megillah Facebook Group

Follow Michael's Tweets

Interesting tidbits of jewishness


Have the Gantseh Megillah dropped directly into your e-mail box

Environmentally friendly Megillah bag

Audio and video Yiddishkayt

Buy him a Megillah shirt

See everything we have to offer


  Go to list      

Page UpTop Small Monitor Subscribe Tzedakeh Links

Subscribe (free) to the Gantseh Megillah. The Gantseh Megillah and are designed and hosted by HannaVisioN About this site Send a financial contribution to this site Contact us See our glossary of Yiddish words and expressions Log In Join
Personal insights from two yiddishe meydls Life stories from the heart News and information with a lighter touch Politics and policy with a Yiddishe taam