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.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Funeral for Torah Scrolls

Thanks to Kevin Edgecomb for his comment pointing out this article in Arutz Sheva on a series of arson fires in Israel that target synagogue arks and their torah scrolls. Destruction of torah scrolls has elicited outrage and concern, and also a ritual response:

A fire in a Bnei Brak synagogue on Wednesday afternoon caused severe damage to the Holy Ark and burned four Torah scrolls beyond repair.

... The rabbis decided that the traditional mourning procession and burial ceremony for the burnt Torah scrolls will be held Friday. The procession will leave the targeted synagogue, HaRishonim, in the morning and traverse the streets of Bnei Brak until reaching the municipal cemetery, where the scrolls will be interred.

Funerals for scriptures are not unique to Jewish tradition: Sikhs and some Muslims have similar rites, and popular Christian concern to bury worn-out Bibles points in the same direction. Kristina Myrvold of the University of Lund is editing a collection of essays on the ritual disposal of scriptures in various traditions. I'm looking forward to reading it!

No comments: