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Czech Torah Scroll #942 - Memorial Scrolls Trust

Details of the Torah Restoration Process

Rabbi Hale first evaluated all of the Torah’s components before beginning work. The Torah was then thoroughly cleaned and repaired. A new section of parchment was added to replace one that was damaged beyond repair. Because a vigorous cleaning might have endangered the text, it was cleaned with an eraser. The parchment between the columns was lightly wiped and sanded with emery paper.

Before sewing the panels, Rabbi Hale was able to identify those that had been sewn by the original sofer, and those repaired – and in one case, created and sewn in – by subsequent scribes. Rabbi Hale noted, “Pre-1880, there was a way of sewing where the two panels are folded back and there are loops every few inches.” “The newer way is more like seismic plates, he said, “where one is behind the other and then the top one is folded. So the old style is a bunch of loops and the new style is back-and-forth, back-and-forth.”

Many of the panels on Torah #942, sewn originally in one style, had been repaired in the other, newer one. Faced with the need to repair both types, Hale did his best to preserve the integrity of the scribes before him. “Where the seam was still in the old style, I sewed in the old style,” he said, “and where it was in the new style, I sewed in the new style.”

With the newer panel, however, Hale recommended that it be completely rewritten for two reasons. Rabbi Hale found that it didn’t match the original script and was a different kind of parchment. “Based on his lettering style, the original sofer had been experienced and meticulous,” Hale believed, “The original sofer’s letters were unadorned, very upright and, even where they curved naturally, seemed almost written in little segments to make them stand as straight as possible.” Rabbi Hale suggested that it would honor the original scribe to create a new panel that more closely matched the style in which the rest of the Torah was written. Doing so also provided a means for Sarah Surlow Zucker’s descendants and her community to fulfill the 613th mitzvah.

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Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784