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in Judaism, a repository for timeworn sacred manuscripts and ritual objects, generally located in the attic or cellar of a synagogue. In the Middle Ages most synagogues had a genizah, because ceremonial burial (often with the remains of a pious, scholarly Jew) was thought to be the only fitting manner of disposing of sacred documents. Countless sacred manuscripts-called shemot ("names") because they contained the name of God-were thus left to gather dust or to disintegrate slowly.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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