Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Samaritans View Part Of Ancient Torah Scroll Stolen More Than 20 Years Ago

(JTA) — More than 20 years after the theft of ancient Torah scrolls from a synagogue in Nablus, the Israel Antiquities Authority retrieved one page from the missing objects and invited its owners to view it.

The piece of parchment retrieved earlier this year during a customs inspection came from one of two missing 14th-century Torah scrolls that were stolen in 1995 from a house of worship belonging to the Samaritans – a community of several hundred people who follow an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism.

It was found during a routine customs check of a backpacker seeking to exit Israel to Jordan through the Allenby Crossing, the news site Kipa reported Wednesday.

Uri Mendes, the deputy head of the Civil; Administration body that governs the West Bank, last week showed the retrieved parchment to leaders of the Samarian community, whose members  follows the Samaritan Torah, which adherents say is what the ancient Israelites practiced before the Babylonian Exile.

Yefet Cohen, a communal leader, told Kipa: “This is a day that combines happiness and sadness. Sadness for what happened to the rest of the scroll, whose parts are now scattered across the globe,” and happiness for being able to view at least a part of it.

The scroll is believed to have been written in 1362 by the scholar Avishua ben Pinchas.

Yossi Dagan, the head of the Shomron Regional Council, called for the retrieved page to be given back to the Samaritan community for safekeeping.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.