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Sefer Torah of Calahorra

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Sefer Torah of Calahorra


Basic Information

Location Calahorra, Spain
Country Spain
City Calahorra

General Information

Open to visitors no
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Geographical Coordinates 42.2992,-1.9580


Amongst the scarce material remains of the Jewish past in Calahorra, pride of place must go to the fragments of a synagogue Torah which are kept in the Cathedral Archive and fragments of the book of Exodus, have been conserved, from Ex.IV, 18 to XI, 10.

The fragments of the Torah have survived until today thanks to their use as the cover for two volumes of the Cathedral Chapterhouse Minutes, to be precise, for the volumes pertaining to the years 1451-1460 and 1470-1476.

These fragments belonged to a long scroll which contained the text of the Torah comprising sections sewn to each other and going to make up horizontally very long strips which were rolled up at each of the ends on various wooden rods. To sew the sections together, tendons (orgiddim) were usually used, deriving from the rear hoof of a kosher animal or one which is fit for consumption by the Jews.

The written text is arranged into parallel columns and, as can be observed in the Calahorra fragments, great care is taken with the calligraphy and the ink is high quality. The length of the full manuscript would be around forty metres.

The fragments conserved from the Sefer Torah of Calahorra present a quadrangular shaped oblong and they constitute a piece of skin which is 1.49 metres long (one of the fragments is 81 centimetres and the other 68) by 63-64 centimetres wide. The text is distributed into nine columns of writing. The first five pages pertain to the worst conserved fragment (the one which bound the Minutes from 1470-1476) and the other four pertain to the part which is easier to read (and covered the minutes from 1451-1460). Each column of writing is formed by forty three lines as is the norm in the seforim and they are all equally spaced one centimetre between each other. The parchment which serves as the base is top quality, consisting of tanned skin, probably goat, written on 3 (in other words, by dint of its smooth cover), with very elegant square Hebrew writing which could be defined as a Sephardic Rabbinic scripture. The letters are slightly spaced between each other and the spaces are slightly bigger between words and between phrases. The ink used is very dark, carbon black.

The base parchment shows signs of having been reused and the remains of previous writing can still be observed, erased to reuse the material, which lends the manuscript even greater value.

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