Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Save the Torahs?

Jewish manuscripts smuggled out of Iraq since the fall of Saddam are a current topic of active discussion among archaeologists, artifact collectors, and legal experts on the Iraq Crisis discussion list. One of the stories which sparked this discussion is about Rabbi Menachem Youlus, pictured here.

A recent article by Caroline Prince in the Christian Science Monitor describes Rabbi Youlus as the "Indiana Jones" of Rabbis. That he very well may be, for as we have only recently learned, the fictional Indy is no professional but rather a "plunderer." As reported in the Jewish Bugle, Rabbi Youlus is reported to have sold a Torah "liberated" by a United States soldier to a synogogue in Fulton, Maryland for $20,000. In order for the object to be smuggled out of Iraq, it first had to be "dissassembled" into 60 panels. Rabbi Younus also mentioned to the Jewish Bugle reporter some unusual methods of "restoration" -

"Normally we write with a turkey feather or a goose feather, but you can't use it with that type of parchment," said Youlus, explaining he had to use a piece of wood resembling a chopstick.

"It was plenty of work. But the finished product is very nice," he said.

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