Maimonides’ Letter about Jewish Captives

Moses Maimonides was an acknowledged rabbinic authority, a rationalist philosopher and a community leader. He was born in Cordoba, Spain in 1138. In 1148 the Jewish community of Cordoba was forced into exile by the Almohades from Africa who conquered the city. His family wandered around Spain and eventually settled in Fez, Morocco. Maimonides lived briefly in the Holy Land before settling in Fustat, Egypt, where he died on September 13, 1204.

This letter was written by Maimonides’ personal secretary and signed by Maimonides. The letter pleads for funds to rescue Jewish captives taken prisoner by the Crusader king Almaric I of Jerusalem.

This letter was discovered in the Cairo Genizah and was part of the personal collection of Solomon Schechter. It is now part of the Jewish Theological Seminary collection.

Special Treasures of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary- The Maimonides Fragments