Lebanese Torah scroll ‘could be 400 years old’

Point of No Return exclusive

 

A Torah scroll which may be 400 years old has been discovered at the synagogue in Sidon, Lebanon. The discovery was made by Nagi Gergi Zeidan, an expert on the Jewish community of Lebanon and author of Juifs du Liban.

The scroll was written on deerskin

Zeidan was shown the scroll, which was stored in a black bin bag, by a member of the family which has lived in the synagogue for at least 10 years. The scroll was written on deerskin. Zeidan thinks it may be at least 400 years old. He has sent a fragment to the American University of Beirut to be carbon dated and is awaiting the result.

The scroll was kept in a black bin bag. Click here to see video

The current residents of the synagogue are a Palestinian-Syrian family. They are demanding $100,000 for the scroll. However, it is in poor condition and has several holes. According to Jewish practice, an unusable or pasul scroll  has to be buried in a geniza, a store containing documents bearing the name of God.

The synagogue at Sidon is the site of  one of the oldest Jewish settlements in Lebanon. A synagogue is believed  to have stood on the site of the current building since 632.

On the walls, there are still traces of Stars of David. Hebrew inscriptions have been daubed over with red paint.

But while little remains of the synagogue’s former life, tourists with Lebanese Jewish roots from Canada, France and Brazil have continued to visit.

In 2012, two rabbis from Neturei Karta — a group of anti-Zionist Jews who believe that the state of Israel should not exist — prayed in the synagogue.

There is no Jewish community remaining in Lebanon.

More about Nagi Zeidan

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