Tuesday, June 17, 2008

From Florida to Utah to restore sacred Jewish text

(KSL) June 16th, 2008

Ogden's Jewish congregation is hosting a special guest this week: a scribe whose skills will restore their sacred text. Rabbi Moshe Druin uses ancient techniques to help fellow believers around the world.

"This is the original work of the greatest of all masters," he said.

The rabbi has traveled from Florida to bring a Torah, or Hebrew Bible, back to life. No one in Ogden's Jewish community knows how old the sacred text is, but the seams holding the parchment pages together need re-sewing, and the calligraphy is worn or smeared.

The rabbi uses all natural products: a turkey-feather quil,l and ink from an ancient recipe of herbs and honey.

"The secret in the making of the ink is not the ingredients but rather the quantities and the mixing of it. And that's only known to a few families in the world," he explained.

Until the repairs are made, the Torah is not kosher, or suitable for use. Rabbi Druin is one of only about 100 sofers or scribes in the world. There is no school; each one searches for a teacher, the way others have done through the centuries.

"Who was the first teacher? It's traced back to Moses. But, if you think of it, who taught Moses? The Lord himself. So, if you think of it, I'm in God's profession," he said.

The repairs not only will serve to make the Torah kosher again, but members of the congregation say the repairs will serve as a learning experience to bring them closer together.

Judi Amsel, president of Congregation Brith Sholem, said, "He's bringing, I would say, a thousand times more than any of us has ever learned in the past to this experience that we'll be able to now share with our community, both the community of Brith Sholem and, hopefully, the community at large."

They believe repairing their holy book defines who they are and links them to all others who honor and care for their sacred texts.

Congregation Brith Sholem, on Grant Street in Ogden, will open its doors to the community tomorrow night at 7 for an educational program with Rabbi Druin.

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