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An Edition of the Piyyutim (Liturgical Poems) of Eleazar be-Rabbi Qillir - Dr Michael Rand

This project, undertaken jointly with Professor Shulamit Elizur of the Hebrew University, aims at producing a critical edition of the liturgical poems (piyyutim) of Eleazar be-rabbi Qillir, a Jewish synagogue poet who composed in Hebrew in the late Byzantine period in Palestine (ca. early 7th century).

The piyyutim of Qillir are represented to various degrees in the several liturgical rites of medieval Europe (especially Germany and Italy), some of which are in active use to this day. The corpus of his poems is considered to constitute the backbone of the majority of the European rites, with the notable exception of the rite of Spain.

With the discovery of the medieval hoard of eastern Jewish manuscripts known as the Cairo Genizah in the second half of the 19th century, the corpus of Qillirian poems has been significantly expanded by new material. The aim of the project is to gather together all of Qillir’s poetry, both from the European liturgical codices as well as from the (frequently fragmentary) manuscripts of the Genizah, and to publish them in a critical edition, which includes a vocalized Hebrew text, variant readings, commentary, and an introduction.

Dr Rand and Prof. Elizur plan to publish several volumes, dividing the material up in accordance with the Jewish ritual calendar. The first volume, for Rosh Hashana (the New Year), is currently in an advanced state of preparation, to be published in 2014.

The researchers are simultaneously working on the following volume, for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). The publication of this material will represent a major milestone in the field of piyyut studies. It is anticipated that it will significantly deepen our understanding of Classical, Byzantine-period piyyut in general. 


Research and teaching in the field of Jewish Studies take place in a variety of faculties and departments across the University of Cambridge. The Cambridge Forum for Jewish Studies is an initiative whose objective is to join up this activity and communicate the range of expertise and wealth of research in the field that currently exists in the university. The Forum meets once a term to exchange information and ideas. It is hoped that it will encourage wider participation and a variety of perspectives.

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