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The Torah Scrolls at SPS
We have four Torah scrolls in our Ark at SPS, three large (or ‘full size’) and one small. All four have exactly the same content – The Torah or ‘Five Books of Moses.’ However, each has their own characteristics, they differ in size, clarity, writing style, thickness of vellum parchment; and therefore weight; and what the Etz Chayim (handles) are crafted from.
For example, one of our three large Torah Scrolls has Etz Chayim made from ivory, whilst the others are wooden, another is made of a red skin, much thicker than the fine vellum parchment of the others, making it extremely heavy – that scroll is no longer kosher as a lot of the letters (brown ink on red skin) have now disappeared because it is no longer being regularly oiled.
The ivory handled scroll is the easiest to read as the letters are clear and a decent size, resulting in it becoming known as the ‘Bar Mitzvah scroll’, for obvious reasons.
The small Czech scroll is the lightest to lift and carry, and although the writing is quite small, and a little faded in some places, it has nevertheless become the most popular with Rabbis and lay service leaders. It thus sees daylight more than the other scrolls, which is particularly appreciated by the scroll carriers and elevators, tasks that even a child could readily perform with this scroll. Hence parents of our B’nei Mitzvah students use it to bless their children, and it is extensively used for children, family, and youth services.