I love the mystery of ritual as much as anyone else. I think that, given the choice between reading aloud from a Torah scroll or from a bound book, I'd rather read from the scroll. But as an Off-The-Grid specialist, I don't have access to a kosher scroll, either (and in fact, some rabbis are not super-thrilled with my dedication to facilitating Off-The-Grid celebrations for unaffiliated Jewish families, but that's another blog post).
summer, the unaffiliated family of a B'nei Mitzvah student offered to purchase a non-kosher scroll,
printed on heavy paper and glued to wooden poles so that their child
would have a scroll to read from -- and then, in exchange for a few of
the lessons, to give me the scroll to keep for use with future students.
I was deeply moved by this offer and accepted it humbly.
I set about making a proper ark for my scroll. Because even a
non-kosher scroll deserves to have a place of honor. The story is still
So here's what I came up with. it's made from
assorted car and bicycle license plates, an abandoned wooden planter box, hinges and
other hardware that came from my shed or from a local house parts recycler,
and some paint that was left over from my time at the bike shop. It
took some figuring out, and some modifying when I realized too late that
the box wouldn't quite fit the scroll (I too one end apart, rebuilt it
and added a "roof" made from a license plate). But in the end, it makes a
fine, and a wonderfully whimsical, "SO Portland" home for my little
Torah scroll. I couldn't have asked for it to turn out any better. And I
am grateful to the family whose bright idea inspired me to make it.