Torah Scroll From Northern Italy Identified as Oldest Still in Use by a Jewish Community

President of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Italy says Carbon 14 dating carried out by Geochronology Laboratory of the University of Illinois dates Biella's scroll at around 1250.

JTA
JTA
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A screenshot from the Biella scroll restoration's crowdfunding page.
A screenshot from the Biella scroll restoration's crowdfunding page.Credit: Screenshot from funding.beniculturaliebraici.it
JTA
JTA

A Torah scroll from the synagogue in the northern Italian town of Biella has been identified as probably the oldest in the world still owned and used by a Jewish community.

Dario Disegni, the president of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Italy, told a meeting of the Foundation board in Rome on Wednesday that Carbon 14 dating carried out by the Geochronology Laboratory of the University of Illinois put the date of the scroll at around 1250.

“This is exciting news that is of extraordinary importance for Italian Judaism,” he said.

The scroll, which since 2012 had undergone restoration on behalf of the Foundation by an Italian scribe, or sofer, will be returned to the Biella synagogue during a ceremony on March 6.

The scroll was one of several ancient Torah scrolls examined by experts in 2012 and then chosen as the one best suited for restoration. It was believed originally to date from the 14th century.

It is not rare to find extremely old Torah scrolls, the sofer, Amedeo Spagnoletto, told Italian Jewish media. “But in this case the scroll has remained completely intact, without a single piece of parchment substituted, from 1250 until today,” he said.

The Biella scroll is not the oldest Torah scroll to have been found in Italy, but is the oldest that is still kosher and used by a Jewish community. In 2013 a torah in the collection of the University of Bologna library was carbon dated to between 1155 and 1225 and identified as the oldest complete Torah scroll known to exist.

The Foundation has launched a $22,000 crowd-funding campaign to cover the costs of the Biella scroll restoration.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott