“This is one of my latest acquisitions. It’s a fragment of a Torah scroll,” said Reid Moon — a rare books collector and social media influencer in Provo, Utah — on TikTok, where his posts reach more than 1.8 million followers.
Showing clear signs of charring and fire damage, the scroll, which is believed to have survived Nazi bombs in Warsaw before being spirited away to safety, is estimated to date back 500 years. Purchased by a collector in 1995 from Zadok Judaica, in Jerusalem, it was recently brought to the United States and gifted to Moon’s Rare Books. Reid Moon, the shop’s proprietor, planned to display the scroll in his “bookstore disguised as a museum.”
But things took a different turn when a community member spotted the Torah scroll and, appreciating its significance, contacted Chabad’s Rabbi Chaim Zippel. The rabbi soon visited Mr. Reid, and spent time discussing with him the life of a Torah scroll and how it is treated: wrapped in covers of cloth, wood or metal and stored in the Holy Ark in a synagogue to be read regularly, its words inspiring the listeners.
For the new, burgeoning Jewish community of Utah County, the historic Torah scroll would have been a welcome gift, to be read from during its weekly Torah readings. Sadly, it was too burnt and scarred to be restored. “It needed to be buried,” explained Rabbi Zippel.
In a gesture of deep respect and generosity, Reid gave the priceless, ancient scroll to Chabad of Utah County, where it will be brought to burial in a ceremony not unlike that in which a person is brought to their final resting place
Rabbi Zippel, who established Chabad of Utah County several months ago with his wife Esty, is grateful. “Thank you to Moon’s Rare Books for helping return the Torah to its Jewish roots at last,” he said. “This is such a touching moment for the Jewish community.”