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October 10, 2015 | 27th Tishrei 5776
Torah Scrolls


Discussions include:

  • Scribes
  • Repairs
  • Preservation
  • Sefer/Non-Kosher Concerns

  1. Our congregation has Torah scrolls which were not at some point repaired. We display them in the small Temple Library or in a room off the sanctuary which has been turned into a small museum with other artifacts from our Congregation's history. We use them to show our frequent non-Jewish visitors a bit about the Torah.

  2. Our congregation has a beautiful cased display of antique ritual objects. A number of years ago one of our congregants designed two cases to match that older wooden display case. Each one sits at the end of the museum display and holds a Torah that we no longer use. The cases were designed to hold the scrolls open, with lucite holders for the etz hayim top and bottom. It allows all to see the inside of a scroll close up, to see the history of the scroll by reading the plaque, and offers us a way to still use the scrolls, while not reading or studying from them. Even if you don't have a museum, this could be a start.

  3. There is a wonderful scribe who lives in the New York area, but has been commissioned to write Torahs for Reform and Conservative synagogues as well as Jewish organizations around the country. He was the scribe for the Torah that Women of Reform Judaism recently completed. I have been at workshops where he captivated the attendees with his teaching about how the scrolls get written. His name is Neil Yerman and his Web page is

  4. Just within the last few years, the Reform Responsa Committee issued an in-depth Responsum with respect to the halachah surrounding the use of sifrei Torah, specifically those which are pasul (no longer kosher). The question was posed to them by my home congregation. They too have a Czech Torah scroll (from Kolin), which was not kosher and could not be repaired. For those of you interested in reading what our Reform "halachah" states with regard to these scrolls, you can go to the [CCAR Web site ( and click on the Responsa link]...and you will be able to read this responsum online. Their final ruling is very interesting and definitely worth the time to read for those of you who have sifrei Torah that fit this description.

  5. Dec 2005 Digest 197

                …your…question is whether you allow your Torah to travel (and whether your sh’liach tzibur will travel with it). A corollary, not applicable to weddings and funerals, but very applicable to b'nei mitzvah--if a bar mitzvah is taking place in a "sanctioned" external location--which in any event tends to privatize it--will Shabbat services still be held at the synagogue? (This is said recognizing that some congregations only have services on Shabbat morning when there is a bar mitzvah.) In the particular instance, would it make sense to sanction the continued use of your current home in a borrowed church for functions that can't be accommodated in the new building?


    1100 units
  6. Dec 2005 Digest 197

                We recently decided that our Torahs would not be taken outside of the synagogue. The issue arose when one family wanted to have a bar/bat mitzvah service at a catering hall in order to make the entire day "easier" on their guests. Our feeling was that the service itself should be in a holy space such as our sanctuary.


    600 Families
  7. Dec 2005 Digest 197

                Our storefront facility legally held about [90] people…, so we encouraged our congregants to at least hold the life cycle event itself (the bar/bat mitzvah, the wedding, the naming ceremony) on site, if it was at all possible to do so, and just have the seudat mitzvah, the celebratory  meal/party off-site.When that wasn't possible due to the guest list, if the Torah needed to be taken off-site for the event, certain guidelines needed to be met. These included:

            1. The use of the Torah, if  needed, had to be approved by the Rituals Committee.

            2. The event had to be held indoors, where proper heating/air conditioning was available.

            3. The event could not be more than a 30-min drive time from our facility.

            4. The Torah was to be removed from and returned to our building by a member of our Rituals Committee, and its respectful and proper care from removal to return was the responsibility of that person, i.e, the Rituals Committee person was expected to be present for the event, to keep a watchful eye on the Torah.

                My congregation has a portable Ark, which many of our congregants made use of over the years. The arrangements for removing, setting up, taking down, and returning the portable Ark were handled by the congregant through our House and  Grounds Committee after the Rituals Committee approved the loan of the Ark. A refundable fee was charged to the congregant in case damage occurred to the Ark.

                In lieu of an Ark in which to place the Torah for the event, a full-sized tallit to cover it with should suffice to give the scroll the respect it deserves.

                Know that schlepping a Torah in and out of your building to other sites is hard on a scroll. Discourage this from happening whenever you can.


    55 Families

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