Torah Scrolls

Torah Scroll Database and Research Project

Torah scrolls contain the text of the Torah (the Pentateuch) in Hebrew, the central text in Judaism. They are written in ink on parchment according to specific rules regarding materials, method, and text. They are read aloud as a part of the Jewish liturgy, and over the course of the year the entire Torah is completed in many Jewish communities.

Museum of the Bible curates more than 1,500 Torah scrolls in its collections. Over time, as the ink fades and crumbles and the scrolls are no longer fit for liturgical use, they are set aside. None of the scrolls in the Museum Collections are fit for ritual use. Cataloging and studying these important objects, and making this information available to researchers and the public, is the reason the museum’s Torah Scroll Project was launched in 2019.

This catalog will ultimately include details for every Torah scroll in the Museum Collections. It includes 16 searchable fields that offer insight into each scroll’s unique features. These fields are listed and explained below. Eventually, the catalog will also include full images of each scroll.

In creating this catalog, the Torah Scroll Project seeks to contribute to a new body of scholarly literature in medieval and modern Torah scroll research, an area that has been neglected in the past. A further aspect of the project is to identify scrolls that have no long-term research value to the Museum Collections, but which may be suitable for restoration for ritual use. These will be distributed to Jewish communities in need of Torah scrolls.

This project has been created with the help of a grant from The David Berg Foundation.

History of the Collection: From 2009 to 2015, the Green Collection of Oklahoma City acquired Torah scrolls from a small number of book and antiquities dealers in Israel. Between 2011 and 2015, more than 1,500 of these scrolls were donated to Museum of the Bible for research and exhibition.

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