From Spain to the Balkans: Textile Torah scroll accessories in the Sephardi communities of the Balkans

Bracha Yaniv

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The article deals with the development of three accessories of the Sephardic Torah scroll: the Torah binder - a narrow and long strip which fastened both parts of the scroll; the Torah wrapper - which protects the parchment; and the Torah mantle - the exterior covering of the Torah scroll. These textile accessories originate in the Talmudic mappah/mitcombining dot belowpahcombining dot belowat, a square piece of fabric which, in the ancient period, was used to wrap the Torah scroll. This object turned out to be the origin of the European means of protecting and adorning the Torah scroll. While in Ashkenazi communities only the Binder and the Mantle are customary, the uniqueness of the Sephardi tradition is an additional accessory - the Wrapper. The Wrapper, a fabric equal in height to that of the parchment, is wound around the staves, and is customary to this very day in the Sephardic Diaspora. Although the Binder and the Mantle are common to all European and Sephardi communities, in the latter these ceremonial objects have unique visual features. One of them is the use of precious fabrics, mainly brocades and gold embroidered fabrics. Such a magnificent background did not encourage the development of dedicatory inscriptions, on the one hand, but on the other it did encourage the recycling of precious textiles that had previously served in other capacities in daily life. The article is based on the documentation of ceremonial objects from various collections as well as on Rabbinic literature and field research in Sephardi synagogues in Israel and abroad.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-442
Number of pages36
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


  • Hekcombining macron belowal
  • Holy Ark
  • Mappah
  • Mitcombining dot belowpahat
  • Textile Fabric
  • Torah Binder
  • Torah Mantle
  • Torah Scroll
  • Torah Wrapper


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