Sunday, November 13, 2011

Short Q&A - Machon Ot

Founded by Rabbi Yitzchak Shteiner and Rabbi Yitzchak Goldshtein, Machon Ot is a non-profit organization based in Jerusalem which has developed computerized techniques of torah identification.


Every examined scroll is entered into The International Torah Registry, a worldwide computer database assigning a unique torah code (likened to a fingerprint) to every torah scroll analyzed. Using this technique, any torah scroll can be immediately identified and matched with its owner. This technique is the only one used by both The Israel National Police, Interpol and The New York Police Department for returning a recovered stolen torah scroll.


I've seen their sticker in the Aron Kodesh of many Israeli synagogues and they are well known there. This is a great initiative and I hope it catches on in the rest of the world. Their service is very affordable and it can help in case of robbery or loss - something unfortunatedly not uncommon today (see here about a case last year in Europe)


Here's my short interview:


1. When was the Machon founded?
1988. It's a non-profit organization and our mission is to repair and donate Torah to places which do not have a Kosher Torah Scroll.

2. How can a client send a scroll for analysis? Must he send to Israel only or also other locations?

He needs to fill up a registration form and submit it to Israel. We also come to the US from time to time.


3. How many Torah scrolls have the "fingerprint" identification today? 
15000.


4. Do you also analyse other scrolls, like Megillat Esther or only Sefer Torah?
We analyze both Torah Scrolls and Megillat Esther.


5. Do you check who wrote the Sefer Torah you analyze? The scrolls with Machon Ot fingerprint are all Kosher?
We can't know who wrote the Torah but we have signs that tell us if it was written by a Kosher Scribe. We check Kosher and damaged Torahs and provide an estimate in case of need of repair.


6. How much it costs to fingerprint a Torah Scroll, roughly?
About U$100.


7. Did the police recover any scrolls because of the fingerprint? 
Yes, in Yahud (Israel).


8. What's the oldest Torah you received in the Machon?
500 years.

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