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Mar 13th, 2017 Comments Off

Smugglers of rare Torah scroll caught in Tunisia – The Times of Israel

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Tunisian authorities announced over the weekend that they thwarted an attempt to smuggle a rare Torah scroll dated to the 15th century out of the country, the Hebrew language Ynet news site reported.

Members of the smuggling network were reportedly apprehended after the authorities received information that the group was trying to transfer the rare Torah school to an unnamed European country.

The Torah scroll, which is said to be made of ox skin, was revealed to the public during a press conference by a spokesman from the Tunisian National Guard, Khalifa al-Shibani, who described it as a one of a kind historical artifact, according to the Ynet report on Saturday.

Al-Shibana told reporters that experts at Tunisias National Heritage Institute confirmed that the [Torah] scroll is a rare artistic and historic artifact from the 15th century.

The spokesman said that Hebrew-language experts who examined the manuscript said that it contains all five books of the Torah, with the text pre-dating the version of the Torah in use today.

Al-Shibana gave no details on where the scroll had been taken from or or what authorities planed to do with it now.

A tourist visits El Ghriba, the oldest synagogue in Africa, on the Island of Djerba, southern Tunisia, October 29, 2015. (AP/Mosaab Elshamy)

Around 1,500 Jews live in Tunisia as of 2016, down sharply from an estimated 100,000 before the country won independence from France in 1956.

Most of the Jews still living in Tunisia live on the island of Djerba, whose Ghriba synagogue has become a popular pilgrimage site for tourists during the Jewish festival of Lag BOmer.

AFP contributed to this report.

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Smugglers of rare Torah scroll caught in Tunisia – The Times of Israel

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