Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Torah's wanderings

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For the Simchat Torah holiday today, when we dance and sing with the Torah scrolls and rewind them back to Genesis 1, here is a very old scroll with a dramatic history.
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The deerskin on which it is written is unusually dark. Normally a Torah is a light tan color.

The Jewish museum at Hechal Shlomo in Jerusalem, where it is now housed, tells this story:

This Torah scroll was written in Spanish script, probably before 1492, by an excellent scribe on deerskin.
It wandered to Germany. There the Jewish congregation of Krautheim repaired it and added a piece of parchment with the missing chapter, written in Ashkenazic script.
The scroll survived a flood, the Gestapo, and bombings of the house in whose attic is was hidden during World War II.
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The middle photo on the right shows the old Jewish hospital in Karlsruhe where it was hidden.

If you enlarge this photo you can see where the two pieces were stitched together.
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This post is especially for my good friend Angelika, a teacher in Karlsruhe.
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9 comments:

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for this interesting post and piece of history! Fortunately this Torah scroll was saved during the war the flood and bombings.

Leif Hagen said...

They have an exhibit of ancient scrolls in the Twin Cities right now - I just haven't gotten there yet to see them!

Louis la Vache said...

Absolutely fascinating, Dina.

Sara said...

The letters are so beautiful! And the history is an amazing story....

VP said...

A great survival story, honor to whoever had a part in saving this scroll!

andrea said...

very kind of you .. tks

Raksha said...

Beautiful scroll and fascinating history. The Reform temple I attend sometimes (in Redlands, California) also owns a very old Sephardic Torah scroll. I don't know if it's quite as old as the one in your picture, but it's one of the oldest in the U.S.

Mott said...

Sometimes a historically important book or torah survives for hundreds of years, against all the odds. What a find in Karlsruhe.

Sothebys just sold a French machzor dated back to 1300 AD. Once again its survival seemed improbable.

Mott said...

What are the chances of an important torah or book surviving 500 years of wars, floods, fires and looting. The find in Karlsruhe was amazing.

Sothebys just sold a French machzor dated 1300 AD. Ditto amazing.