The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies' Torah Scroll | The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies

The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies' Torah Scroll

The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies' Torah scrollTorah as Witness
In 2008, an anonymous donor gifted a 19th century Torah scroll to the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies. Perhaps Dutch in origin, the scroll is in remarkably good condition, yet there are signs of age that indicate it is a delicate artifact. For that reason, it is housed in the UA Special Collections Library.
When the scroll first arrived at the Center, our inclination was to have it restored to its original condition.  However, as we handled the scroll and observed others as they interacted with it, we reconsidered.  The scroll, with all its imperfections, has a profound impact on its viewers and gives us insight into those who used it in the past.  The condition of the sheepskin tells the most compelling story.  The worn spots in the text and the deterioration of some folds indicate those passages that held the most interest.  We also wondered what the Torah itself had seen since it was originally scribed almost 200 years ago.  Suddenly, the decay and grime took on a new meaning for us, and we now see it not as a nuisance to be removed, but a remnant of our intense human history.
We decided that rather than fully restore the scroll, our goal will be to stabilize it and protect it from further decay, leaving the human narrative that has accumulated on its surface. Our Torah, which has born witness to countless human struggles and triumphs, will be preserved as a testament to our history, faith, and endurance.  It will also act as a remembrance of those who have gone before us.

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