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Oraynu’s Torah Scroll

In 2010 Oraynu received a beautiful gift –  a Torah scroll with a velvet cover and sterling silver pointer, from Ron Hirsch, in honour of Rabbi Eva Goldfinger. Ron is a Society for Humanistic Judaism member in Boca Raton, Florida, and an SHJ benefactor and past fundraising chair.

The scroll is from Germany from the mid-1800s.  During WWII, a group of Jews fleeing Germany asked a Christian family to hide it for safekeeping.  No one ever returned to claim it.  Decades later, in 1999, a member of the family asked a Jewish co-worker who was going to Israel to take it with him, where it was turned over to Yad Vashem, then later offered for sale and Ron purchased it.

What is a Torah scroll? It is a parchment manuscript in scroll format of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. As both writing and artefact it speaks to many different aspects of Jewish history, life and society, especially the evolution of Jewish literary and material culture. The text is a collection of extremely important ancient Jewish writings.

After the destruction of ancient Israel, which coincided with the beginning of the Christian era, the text of the Torah became central to both worship and education in Jewish society. The scroll itself became an object of religious adulation in the synagogue.

In modern times, with the rise of science and secular worldviews, some Jews and Christians began to see the Torah as we do at Oraynu — as literature and an historical document.  The possession of our own Torah scroll now enables our examination of the evolution and significance of torah manuscripts in Jewish society through the ages.