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A Torah Scroll Odyssey // Closed exhibition

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

Tora scroll from Baghdad

Curator: Orly Baher-Levy

Opening: 7.4.23

The Torah scroll exhibited in the display case was in use for decades at the Aram Naharaim synagogue in Tel Aviv. The synagogue, which is located on 47 Nahalat Binyamin Street, was the first Babylonian synagogue established in the city (1933).

This Torah scroll was recently loaned to the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center by the synagogue's management committee. Upon receiving the Torah scroll, it underwent thorough cleaning at the Center. Only then was the full extent of its beauty, splendor and fascinating history uncovered. In 1922, the sons of Saleh Salman Saleh Sassoon decided to dedicate a Torah scroll in memory of their distinguished late father. They commissioned a Torah scroll written in Baghdadi script on deerskin parchment, which was the custom among Babylonian Jews. The Torah scroll case also abounds with decorations made using a gilding technique. The decision to incorporate a large quantity of gilt gave this item an especially grand look.

Shaul, the son of Salman Saleh Sassoon, brought the Torah scroll with him when he immigrated to Israel in 1951. But as soon as he got off the plane, the Torah scroll was taken away from him by customs officers. It was transferred for safekeeping to the Jewish Agency's warehouses at Jaffa Port, where hundreds of Torah scrolls that had been brought from Iraq were also stored.

To regain possession of the Torah scroll, Shaul Sassoon had to produce official confirmation from the Association of Babylonian New Immigrants in Tel Aviv, or from the Committee of the Babylonian Community in Jerusalem, that he was in fact its owner.


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