How It's Made: Torah Scroll
How It's Made: Torah Scroll
By Allison Ofanansky
Illustrated by Eliyahu Alpern
Case-Wrapped Hardcover, 32pp, $15.95
Visit the people who make Torah scrolls and decorations. Find out how parchment is scraped and stretched, how tree sap becomes ink, how a computer program checks for mistakes, and why people spend so much time and care making Torah scrolls by hand.
More than 100 full-color photographs and interviews give a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at scribes, artists, and craftsmen in their workshops in Israel and the US.
The Do It Yourself feature helps kids write with a feather quill pen just like a scribe, make ink from berries, make a clay yad (a pointer), and design a Torah scroll cover.
About the Author
Allison Ofanansky is an author and editor. She won the National Jewish Book Award for her picture book, The Patchwork Torah.
About the Illustrator
Eliyahu Alpern’s stunning photography appears in many picture books about the Jewish holidays and Israel. View his work online at www.tziloom.com.
About Apples & Honey Press
Apples & Honey Press brings together the best authors and illustrators from North America and Israel to create memorable stories for children that illuminate the values of family, community, having fun, and being the best we can be.
Reviews for How It's Made: Torah Scroll
Category: Picture Books
"Learn the many specific steps necessary to create a Torah. The Torah is the "holiest text of the Jewish people." The words written on the Torah scroll are commandments for living and stories of creation. They have been preserved and revered for countless generations. In this copiously illustrated book, the author and photographer provide step-by-step directions for making a Torah scroll, from preparing the parchment and ink to writing the words and decorating covers. Ofanansky frequently engages readers in the process by asking questions such as "What tradition do you like to keep," and also includes interactive features, such as matching the correct answers in columns. There are many factoids, as in "304,805/The number of letters in a Torah scroll," as well as quotations from those engaged in the process. Readers can also learn how to make a yad, or pointer, used when reading from the text. There is a strong sense of community and modernity as men and women and girls and boys all work together for this very special creation. While those who attend Jewish services will likely find this the most attention-grabbing, this is still pertinent to readers interested in religious studies."
"Jewish children spend years learning to read Hebrew and later read from the Torah as a Bar and Bat Mitzvah, but probably don't know much about how Torahs are made. The standard text used to share this information, A Torah is Written (JPS, 1986), is rather dated and contains only black and white photos. This new, attractive offering fills the important void in the subject with appealing photography, lively font size changes, and fun do-it-yourself projects that will appeal to children. Using a question-answer format, the author begins with "What is the Torah?" (opposite a photo of a Bat Mitzvah girl reading from a scroll surrounded by her family — possibly in Jerusalem), and continues on with questions such as "What is a Torah scroll?", "Who writes Torah scrolls?", and "How does a Torah scroll get dressed?" One interesting page states that "traditionally Torah scribes have all been men, but today some women write Torah scrolls," and is accompanied by a photo of the hands of scribe Shoshana Gugenheim holding a quill ever so carefully over Hebrew letters written on parchment. Other photos depict traditionally dressed male sofrim (scribes) and artisans.
"The inclusiveness of women and girls in this book is to be commended as a contract to the dated literature surrounding this topic that is surely still on library shelves in so many non-Orthodox Jewish communities. Also, the variety of short, boxed questions directly addressed to the reader, such as, "Would you like to write a Torah scroll?" or "Is your writing straight or crooked?" serve to emphasize the direct connection a child can feel to the centuries-old process."