Corporate Accountability

How Much Is an Unkosher Torah Worth?

Inside the murky world of Torah appraisal and a prominent evangelical’s gift to the Museum of the Bible of thousands of unusable scrolls.
Hella Winston
A Sephardic Torah scroll at the Museum of The Bible.

One of the many attractions at the $500 million, 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible (MOTB) in Washington, D.C. is a gray-bearded scribe imported from Beit Shemesh, Israel, who sits in a gallery and “engages with guests as he works to [create] a Torah scroll,” according to the museum’s website. Nearby are close to 200 Torahs no longer fit for ritual use due to damage or defect, uncovered and rolled up like bolts of fabric on racks behind a glass wall. The display is accompanied by an introductory text that proclaims “The Consistency of Jewish Scriptures” and a key that lists for each Torah an approximate date and region of origin; most are from the 18th and 19th centuries.

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About the reporter

Hella Winston

Hella Winston

Hella Winston is a sociologist and investigative journalist based in New York City.

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