The Torah is central to Jewish life and practice. It contains the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and also embodies Jewish oral tradition. The word Torah means teaching, instruction or law in Hebrew.
The Torah is meticulously handwritten by trained scribes on sheets of parchment that are joined together to make a continuous scroll. The scroll is rolled onto long wooden staves for support. The Torah is read in the synagogue in front of the congregation on the Sabbath, Mondays and Thursdays, and on holidays. It takes a year to read in its entirety.
Torah reading is often the most dramatic part of the Jewish prayer service. The entire congregation stands as the Torah ark is opened and then carried to the bimah to be read. The Torah, which can be more than two feet tall, is an impressive sight.