Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Museum of Scribes in Safed

A new museum will open this summer in Safed, Israel. Kiryat Hasofrim "Palace of the scribes" is intended, according to Chabad.org News,
to educate visitors about the Jewish scribal arts. Some 30 scribes will produce Torah scrolls, mezuzahs and tefillin in a factory on the premises.

... The centerpiece of the visitors center – aptly named Letters of Experience – will be a three-roomed exhibit that will take tourists on a whirlwind tour of the scribal arts, beginning with G-d’s creation of the world through the power of speech.

A movie will explain the spiritual significance and history of each of the Hebrew alphabet’s 22 letters, while a three-dimensional show will illustrate how animal hides and plants become the various parchments, boxes and inks used in the preparation of mezuzahs, tefillin and Torah scrolls.

“The idea that physical things can attain holiness is a central concept in Judaism,” explained Kaplan. “The exhibit will show how we take the world around us and make it holy.”
... The factory operations will be decidedly technologically-based, as well, with supervisors scanning every parchment and entering it into a computerized database, providing a quality-control mechanism previously unknown to the scribal community.

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