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Webster-Kogen, Ilana (2022) 'Moroccan Torah Scrolls: Theorizing a Diasporic Afterlife.' Contemporary Jewry, 42 (2). pp. 157-176.

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Torah scrolls are more than ritual objects; when used in a congregation, they take on semi-human characteristics and are given special agency. For Sephardic communities, some scrolls bear witness to the history of migration and trade that has uprooted them over five centuries. This article examines Torah scrolls originating in Morocco or used today by Moroccan communities, arguing that they take on a different meaning for the community depending on whether they are used, displayed, or guarded. We consider the difference in social meaning between chanting from a scroll and venerating it, and how Moroccan Jewry is impacted by efforts in Morocco, Israel, and the diaspora to ascribe ownership of the Torah via networks of patrimony and belonging. Offering an ethnographically informed analysis of Torah scrolls in London, Essaouira, and Tel Aviv, this article demonstrates that Torah scrolls serve as productive members of the communities that own them when they facilitate a thorough understanding of the migration networks that create communities.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of Music
ISSN: 18765165
Copyright Statement: This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2022 11:17

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