Winner of the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature
A thousand years ago, the most perfect copy of the Hebrew Bible was written. It was kept safe through one upheaval after another in the Middle East, and by the 1940s it was housed in a dark grotto in Aleppo, Syria, and had become known around the world as the Aleppo Codex.
Journalist Matti Friedman’s true-life detective story traces how this precious manuscript was smuggled from its hiding place in Syria into the newly founded state of Israel and how and why many of its most sacred and valuable pages went missing. It’s a tale that involves grizzled secret agents, pious clergymen, shrewd antiquities collectors, and highly placed national figures who, as it turns out, would do anything to get their hands on an ancient, decaying book. What it reveals are uncomfortable truths about greed, state cover-ups, and the fascinating role of historical treasures in creating a national identity.
about Matti Friedman
Matti Friedman is the author of The Aleppo Codex, which won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize, the ALA Sophie Brody Medal, and other awards, and Pumpkinflowers. A former correspondent for the Associated Press, his reporting has taken him from Israel to Morocco, Lebanon, the Caucasus, and Washington, DC, and his work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Tablet, and elsewhere. He was born in Toronto and lives in Jerusalem.