The Cairo Genizah is a vast storehouse of 300,000 fragments of manuscripts and documents from the Medieval Jewish Community of Fustat. During the last decade, this treasure has been digitized and the fragments, which are scattered in dozens of libraries and private collections throughout the world, are now all available on a scholarly oriented website.
In addition to the digitized images, the website contains a platform for available and future scholarly knowledge about the texts (i.e. descriptions, transcriptions, translations, bibliography etc.). See http://www.jewishmanuscripts.org/
So far about only 10% of the fragments have been transcribed. This means that the vast majority are not accessible by the available search engines. The Centre, in collaboration with Dept. of Information Systems in Haifa University, is working on the development of tools to enable crowd sourcing enrichment of the data base. The first step is the creation of a user friendly, interactive platform that will allow the genral public to participate in transcribing selected fragments.
The contribution of the project is two-fold:
First, it aims at harnessing the idea of crowd sourcing to the process of transcribing the Genizah thus speeding up the arduous process of transcription and increasing the accessibility of the Genizah materials to scholars and the general public.
Second, in the course of transcribing the Genizah, a corpus of characters will be created in order which can then be utilitzed to train text classifiers thus providing a crtitcal step towards the development of OCR tools capable of deciphering Genizah manuscripts.
In addition, general participation will increase public awareness of the Genizah and its educational potential. For example: School classes can transcribe documents relevant to subjects that they are currently studying.
We are presently working together with The University of Pennsylvania Libraries is partnering with the Princeton Geniza Lab, the e-Lijah Lab and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research of the Cairo Genizah at the University of Haifa, the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge University Library, the University of Manchester Library, and The Bodleian Libraries at The University of Oxford to bring the Cairo Geniza to create an appropriate platform within The Zooniverse community. We invite you to try your own hand at becoming ne of the "Scribes of the Cairo Genizah".