Kahal Joseph has one of the largest collections of traditional Sefer Torahs in the western world. Presently, forty five Sefers grace the synagogue with their majestic and holy presence.
A Torah scroll, in Hebrew Sefer Torah, is a handwritten copy of the Torah (the five books of Moses, the first books of the Hebrew Bible). It is hand-written on special types of parchment by using a quill or another permitted writing utensil, dipped in ink. Producing a Torah scroll fulfills one of the 613 commandments. The k’laf/parchment on which the Torah scroll is written, the hair or sinew with which the panels of parchment are sewn together, and the quill pen with which the text is written all must come from ritually clean – that is, kosher – animals.
Written entirely in Hebrew, a Torah scroll contains 304,805 letters, all of which must be duplicated precisely by a trained scribe, or sofer, an effort which may take as long as approximately one and a half years. An error during transcription may render the Torah scroll pasul (“invalid”). According to the Talmud, all scrolls must also be written on gevil parchment that is treated with salt, flour and m’afatsim (a residue of wasp enzyme and tree bark) in order to be valid.
Reading the Torah from a Sefer Torah is traditionally reserved for Monday and Thursday mornings, as well as for Shabbat and Jewish Holidays. The presence of ten Jewish adults (minyan) is required for the reading of the Torah in public during the course of the worship services. As the Torah is sung, following the text is aided by a yad (hand), a silver hand-shaped pointer that protects the scrolls by avoiding unnecessary contact of the skin with the parchment.
These scrolls of parchment are housed in beautifully sculpted casings made of the finest metals, including silver, gold and platinum, with embossed patterns, filigree and engravings of flowers.
Several of these casings are embedded with precious jewels and semi‐precious stones, all significantly created to house the rich and profound sacred Books inside.
Kahal Joseph Sefers were produced in Iraq, India, Indonesia, Israel, Singapore, and other countries, some are as old as two hundred years.
Sefers dedicated in the last thirty years were produced mainly in Israel.