Rare Ethiopian Torah Scroll (Jewish Written Law) Given to National Library of Israel


A rare copy of the “Orit,” the Ethiopian Jewish Torah (PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of the National Library of Israel)

The rare Torah scroll, translated from Hebrew to Ge’ez, was written around 400 years ago and used by the spiritual leader of the Jewish community in Ethiopia’s Tigray province • Orit contains five books of Moses as well as books of Joshua, Judges and Ruth.

By Yori Yalon | Israel Hayom

A rare copy of the “Orit,” the Ethiopian Jewish Torah, was delivered last week to the National Library of Israel in a festive ceremony full of singing and dancing.

The Torah scroll, translated from Hebrew to Ge’ez, was written around 400 years ago and used by the spiritual leader of the Jewish community in Ethiopia’s Tigray province, Isaac Yaso.

The original manuscript of the Orit (from the Aramaic word “Oraita”) contains five books of Moses as well as the books of Joshua, Judges and Ruth. The Orit is part of the Ethiopian Jewish community’s mashafa kedus (holy scriptures).

The Orit played a central role in the holidays and daily lives of Ethiopian Jews. After its arrival in Israel, it was decided the scroll’s final destination should be in Jerusalem. Now, it has finally found its permanent home, at the National Library.

The scroll underwent many adventures before arriving in Jerusalem. In the 1980s, it was carried from Ethiopia to Sudan and then to Israel. Along the way, it was almost lost in an attack by bandits.

The curator of the National Library’s Judaica Collection, Dr. Yoel Finkelman, said, “There is no doubt that the delivery of this unique manuscript, one of the few like it in the world, is a significant contribution to our efforts to document the religious and cultural lives of Jewish communities.”

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