What can you tell me about this tabernacle scroll?
March 16, 2015 1:56 PM   Subscribe

According to my grandmother, this scroll was given to her by a client many years ago. Apparently, the client was actually present when items from a tabernacle were being burned during WW2. He rolled up this scroll and secreted it away safely, until he decided to gift it to grandma. Years later, she had a client who was a rabbi, and he first told her it was hung upside down, and then identified the scroll as being a particular story. Grandma says she thinks it was either Joseph's Coat or Jacob's Ladder, but she can't remember which. Can anybody tell what it is, or provide any other information?
posted by gilrain to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: So it's from Genesis 41. The second column starts with verse 48. I'll try to nail down the exact start/end bounds for you shortly.

It is right side up in the photo you posted.
posted by zachlipton at 2:09 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is a section of a Torah scroll, Genesis 41:23 to partway through 43:23.

(The idea of framing this and treating it as a piece of art rather than giving it a proper burial frankly gives me the heebie-jeebies, but that's not what you're asking.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 2:12 PM on March 16, 2015 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the excellent answers! And yes, I agree with your concerns, Shmuel510. I'll try to bring it up gently to her, but she might not see it that way.
posted by gilrain at 2:23 PM on March 16, 2015

Our community recently acquired some Torah scrolls that had been partly burned in the Holocaust. The parts that could be repaired and incorporated into a complete kosher scroll were fixed and i believe the scroll was donated to a synagogue in the area where it had originated. However, portions that had been damaged were framed and on display at the JCC and local synagogues - not as art but as sacred documents that have a special role in our history. So a third option (to bury or display as art) you could explore might be to see if the local Jewish community might want it - to use or to display. They could acknowledge your Grandma as a donor - maybe even create an event around the donation. if not, or if she won' t make the donation in her lifetime, maybe she could at least designate a Jewish organization to receive it on her death so the family will not have to argue about what to do with it.
posted by metahawk at 6:46 PM on March 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

I mentioned this story to a rabbi this evening, because I was curious about what Jewish problems / concerns might exist in keeping a piece of a Torah scroll around as (for lack of a better description) wall art. Shmuel510 is right, in that the proper way to dispose of a torah scroll is in a genizah or burial, and your local temple should be able to arrange that for you. However, it seems that you are not disposing of it, and are treating the scroll with respect. There might be some concern about keeping it in a room where one is naked (ie a bathroom or a bedroom), but aside from that he couldn't think of any immediate problem. (Also, please keep it off the floor.) We didn't talk about this for very long, and obviously my rabbi is not your rabbi, etc (I assumed you and your grandmother were non-Jewish when I told him your story).

As metahawk mentioned, many torahs have been recovered over the years that are unusable (both from the holocaust and (I think in Rhodes??) unearthed in archaeological expeditions). I have seen some displayed in museums both Jewish and non. I personally don't have a problem with you keeping this. There was a large volume of Judaica that was appropriated / destroyed during the holocaust, and the history of this small part seems well intentioned and well treated to me. I would encourage you or your grandmother to write down the story (and if possible get it straight from the original recoverer if they are still alive), but I don't think you need to encourage your family to donate it before they are ready.
posted by Phredward at 8:12 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

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