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Document Showing Jews Lived in Sicily in 11th Century Discovered

Discovery of a document dating back to the year 1020 of the Christian Era, showing for the first time that Jews lived at that time in Sicily, under Moslem rule, was reported here last night at the annual meeting of the American Academy for Jewish Research, held at the Jewish Theological Seminary here.

The report was made by Norman Gold, assistant professor of medieval Jewish studies at the University of Chicago’s department of Oriental languages and civilization. He found the parchment in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, and deciphered it through the use of ultraviolet rays. The parchment was part of a collection recovered from the Genizah of Cairo nearly 70 years ago.

According to Mr. Gold, the document showed that a Jew named Elijah, living in Sicily, had taken an oath in the year 1020 in the synagogue at Syracuse, swearing that he was innocent of charges that he had misappropriated some silver ingots. Scholars of the American Academy for Jewish Research said it had been believed until now that there were no Jews living in Sicily during the period mentioned in the document.