Torah scroll from Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation

Created by
Owned by
Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation, American, founded 1984
wood and ink on parchment and sinew with alloy steel, brass, metal, paper and plastic
37 11/16 × 14 3/4 × 6 11/16 in. (95.7 × 37.5 × 17 cm)
scrolls (information artifacts)
Place used
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States, North and Central America
Place made
Poland, Europe
ca. 1850
A handwritten Torah scroll containing the five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) handwritten in Hebrew on parchment. The scroll is rolled onto two wooden shafts topped on either end with four plates. The shafts and plates are known as Torah rollers [atzei chaim or "trees of life"]. The wooden and metal plates at the top of the left and right shafts are identical. The exterior sides of the top plates have been finished with two bands of inlaid metal resembling rope. Between the bands there is an alternating pattern of decorative brass tacks and larger white-coated, round bores holes that expose the metal plates beneath the wood. Inside the decorative bands near the center of the plates, are paper disks, inscribed in Hebrew and covered with protective clear, plastic film disks that have been secured in place with brass nails. At the top of the left roller, the finial is missing due to loss and has been wrapped in white, cloth tape. The spindle-shaped finial of the right roller is a wooden peg, covered with a length of metal tubing and three differently colored spindle-turned elements. The finials at the bottom of the Torah are both spindle shaped with matching plates but mismatched spindle-shaped handles. The left handle is darker than the right, has a different design and is shorter in length than the right handle.
African American
Religious groups
United States--Social life and customs
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Gift of Rabbi Capers Funnye and the Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Religious and Sacred Objects
Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture

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