"The Eldridge Street synagogue…is an impressive representation of traditional Judaism, modified perforce by the spirit of the time and surroundings."

Century Magazine, 1892


The Torah


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Torah Fragment

Date unknown, probably late 19th–early 20th century
Ink on parchment
23 x 26.75 inches
Gift of Rabbi Kevin Hale in Memory of Rabbi Dr. Eric Ray, 2010

This large parchment sheet contains text from Deuteronomy,
one of many pages handwritten by a scribe to form a complete Torah.
Before beginning to write, the scribe used a stylus to draw a grid of
colorless indentations on the parchment to guide the placement of the
Hebrew letters he will write. The text is written in columns, and
proceeds from right to left. Scribes are specially trained and they work
with great concentration and awareness of their sacred task. Torahs may
not contain any mistakes, so the scribe must scrape off the ink and
rewrite anything not written correctly. But if he makes a mistake in
writing the name of God, the page cannot be used because the name of God
may not be erased.

Parchment tabs are visible at the sides of this sheet. These were
used to attach this page to sheets, now lost, that contained the text
that came before and after. A complete Torah contains 248 columns of
writing and as many as 80 pages. Completed pages are sewn together by
the scribe, then rolled onto specially made staves.

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