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September 25, 1987 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-09-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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.4.

LIFE IN ISRAEL

FIGHT
THE BIG "F"...

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Scribe Ezri Sharabi restores a Torah scroll.

From Our Families
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FRIDAY, SEPT 25, 1987

72-Year-Old Scribe
Continues Holy Work

VARDA AVNISAN

A

t nine he started
learning the art of
writing holy books
and by his 13th birthday he
had already transcribed the
Song of Songs, the Scrolls of
Ruth and Esther, the Hag-
gadah and other holy books.
Today at 72, Ezri Sharabi, a
Yemenite scribe, can only
work three or four hours a
day, for his vision is weak and
his hand moves slowly. Yet he
still painstakingly restores
old and damaged Torah
scrolls in his modest two-room
apartment in Jerusalem's
Katamon rIbt neighborhood.
He remembers his school-
ing vividly: "In those days
there were no chairs or tab-
bles, so we would sit on straw
mats on the floor." At age
nine he began to take week-
ly lessons in the intricate art
of scripture writing. "The
teacher would pass among
the children and check every
letter," he recalls. "Every let-
ter and every dot had to be
perfect?'
Asked how long it took to
acquire the 'expertise needed
for scripture writing; he
answered, "It depended on
the ability of each child. Some •
children were ready after two
years, others after four." Ezri
was ready after two years.

The process of writing the
Scriptures was intricate and
time consuming, says Ezri,
describing in detail the
method of preparing the in-
struments for this holy task.
"We would prepare the calf
skin by cutting it thinly and
soaking it in water and barley
flour for several days, after
which we would hang it in the
sun to dry." Ink, he explain-
ed, is no longer made but
bought in the religious Mea
Shearim - neighborhood.
Quills made from feathers
were preferred for the actual
writing.
Throughout the years Ezri
has continued to restore
Torah scrolls as well as, at the
request of the Ministry of
Religious Affairs, many old
books which have arrived in
Israel since the founding of
the state. "There are many
books from Europe that were
saved from the Holocaust and
found their way to Israel," he
says.
While working on the Ibrah
scrolls, Ezri must recite a
special prayer and bless the
scrolls and each time he
restores the name of God he
has to say a blessing. Asked
of his feeling when he fulfills
this task, he answers, "I have
joy in my heart for I am doing
His work. I feel I am a
messenger of God?'

World Zionist Press Service

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