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Oldest Spanish Torah Scroll Sold

At Sotheby’s for about $400,000

by
Jesse Oxfeld
November 25, 2009
Northern Spanish Torah scroll, late 13th century.(Sotheby's New York)

Northern Spanish Torah scroll, late 13th century.(Sotheby’s New York)

The oldest surviving complete Torah scroll from pre-Inquisition Spain was sold at Sotheby’s yesterday to an unnamed American private collector for $398,500—not quite the half-million bucks the auction house gave as the high estimate, but impressive nonetheless. The 700-year-old scroll was put up for sale by Rabbi Yitzchok Reisman, a Torah scribe and repairman on New York’s Lower East Side who bought it for less than $40,000 a decade ago from a Moroccan family of Spanish origin now living in Israel. Not a bad return—and, as is its wont, Sotheby’s did the rabbi the favor of giving him a photograph of the scroll as a keepsake.

Jesse Oxfeld, a former executive editor and publisher of Tablet Magazine, is a freelance theater critic. He was The New York Observer’s theater critic from 2009 to 2014.

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