Torah I.D.

Identification of Torah Scrolls
Israel’s National Police offered Machon Ot a challenge. Many torah scrolls are stolen every year and dealers have no way of knowing if any of their scrolls are stolen. And since the Atzei Chaim (wooden poles at either end of the scroll) and or the cover are discarded, there was no fool-proof way of identifying a stolen torah scroll. This problem also occurs in congregations where the issue is not theft but simply remembering or identifying which donated scrolls belong to whom.
During a two-year study we examined the writing of over 2000 hand written religious documents. The purpose was to determine if we could create an identification system that the computer could recognize the writing of any particular scribe without defacing the scroll in any way.
Though unable to identify the particular scribe, we did create a virtually infallible identification system for any given torah scroll which is accepted in Israel and many countries. The following is a letter from Israeli Police regarding Ot’s method for identifying stolen torah scrolls (english translation after image):

Working in the Community
On arrival at your community, the Machon’s staff can set up a workshop in the synagogue and examine of each of your torah scrolls. The results of the evaluation of the physical condition of the scrolls will be explained. Subsequently, you will receive a detailed analysis of the condition of each Torah scroll and its appraised value, valid for insurance purposes. All extensive repairs are made at the Machon’s studio in Jerusalem.
Every examined scroll is entered into The International Torah Registry, a worldwide computer database which assigns a unique torah code (similar to a fingerprint) for every scroll analyzed. Using this technique, in case of theft, your Torah scroll can be identified to confirm ownership. This technique is the only one used by The Israel National Police, Interpol and The New York Police Department for returning stolen torah scroll.



English Translation:

Identification of Torah Scrolls

1. Machon Ot presented before me their system for identifying torah scrolls.
2. I was very impressed by the system and it’s efficiency. I witnessed that through this system it is similar to giving an identifying “fingerprint” to each torah scroll. After the torah scroll is registered there are no remnants of the identifying process remaining on the torah scroll.
3. This system allows us to identify stolen torah scrolls and to prove ownership.
4. This system also gives the Police the opportunity to identify the owner of the torah scroll quickly and restore it to the owner.

Yours truly,
Rami Mor – Lieutenant Colonel
Head of Department of Security