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The oldest Sefer Torah as a stimulus for the future

By Dr. Gadi Luzzatto Voghera

On March 6, 2016 a solemn yet joyful ceremony was held in Biella, in northern Italy, to return to the town’s synagogue what is believed to be the oldest sefer Torah in the world that is in use by a congregation. The scroll was one of several ancient Torahs examined by experts in 2012 on behalf of Italy’s Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage and then chosen as the one best suited for restoration.  During the restoration, it was discovered that the scroll can be dated to around 1250.

The story of this nearly 800-year-old Torah leads the Italian Jewish studies scholar Dr. Gadi Luzzatto Voghera to consider the centrality of Jewish cultural heritage (and its preservation) to the contemporary Jewish experience.

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