The Missing Scrolls
ALTHOUGH AT LEAST THREE of the Kaifeng Torahs that I have designated as missing were at one time in western hands, relatively little seems to have been written about the texts of these scrolls and the soferic practices of the men who prepared them. Virtually nothing is known, moreover, about the textual and scribal characteristics of the other Kaifeng Torahs that are now missing.
(Formerly at the London Society)
The unnumbered Kaifeng scroll which was kept for at least seventy-eight years in the offices of the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity among the Jews was one of the six purchased in 1851 from the Jewish community of Kaifeng by the two Chinese Delegates.
On 22 August 1851, referring to the six scrolls which the Delegates had just brought back from Kaifeng, the Reverend George Smith, Bishop of Victoria, wrote: "On examination each was found to be a complete copy of the Pentateuch." He noted, however, that one, obviously the unnumbered exemplar, was extremely fragile, having been (as the Jews state) immersed in the flood [of 1642]." He added that this defective scroll was apparently the oldest and "critically considered the most important."
Five scrolls, Scroll 12 (presently in Dallas) and the now-missing unnumbered scroll among them, were received by the Society at London some months after Bishop Smith wrote the passages quoted above. One scroll was given to the British Museum, a second to Cambridge, and a third to Oxford. Scroll 12 and the unnumbered copy were kept by the Society.
On 6 March 1918, and again on 14 March 1918, Sir David Sassoon attempted to buy the two scrolls then held by the Society, but his offers were not accepted. The scrolls were still in the possession of the Society as late as 14 January 1929, for on that day Dr. M. L. Ettinghausen of Maggs Bros. Ltd., the London booksellers, wrote to the Society as follows: "On behalf of Mr. A. S. Oko [librarian of the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati], we have pleasure in offering you the sum of £100. for the damaged old Scroll of the Law from China which you showed him; or, alternatively, £150. for the more modern copy of the same which you showed him. He does not wish to purchase the two, but only one of them." This tender, I was told by Dr. Ettinghausen on 7 November 1973, was declined.
Since Scroll 12 was offered to Thomas J. Harrison of Pryor, Oklahoma, in 1955, it must have been disposed of by the Society between January 1929 and (at the latest) 1955. The unnumbered scroll would also have been disposed of at some time after January 1929.
Approximately three decades ago, the London Society was reorganized as the Church's Ministry to the Jews. When I visited the headquarters of the CMJ in London on 5 November 1973 I was given the opportunity of examining such of its records pertaining to the Chinese Jews as were available. However, the officials of the CMJ informed me that they personally knew nothing concerning what had happened to the last two Kaifeng scrolls formerly held by the Society. In fact, none of them even seemed to have heard of either Kaifeng or the Chinese Jews, let alone the Kaifeng Torahs. It would appear, then, that the scroll was transferred by the London Society to one or more unknown individuals or organizations — and perhaps to Maggs Bros. — before any of the current members of the CMJ staff had taken up their positions.
I was also told that virtually all the records of the London Society had recently been transferred to the custodianship of the Bodleian Library at Oxford. I therefore visited the Bodleian on 9 November 1973 for the purpose of inspecting the Society's records, hoping to discover to whom the unnumbered scroll and Scroll 12 had been sold.
Unfortunately for my purposes, however, the records of the London Society that are now stored at the Bodleian, and encompass the period 1808-1970, turned out to be intimidatingly voluminous. Their sheer bulk, I realized at first glance, precluded hasty examination, unless one knew more precisely than I where the entries I needed were located.
On the brighter side, Mrs. Mary Clapinson, who had just begun to catalogue the Bodleian's acquisition of the London Society records, graciously made the work she had completed available to me.
The most promising sources for information concerning the disposition of the Society's two scrolls would seem to be in the Society's Minute Books of the General Committee for the years 1929-1955 and, in the case of the unnumbered scroll, perhaps for some years beyond 1955. Another likely source would be the various financial records for the same years. However, only one volume of the Minute Books had yet been indexed, and that was for the period 1850-1852 (item c.21). This, as it turned out, was quite fortunate, for in it I discovered the entries regarding the General Committee's decisions as to the distributions of by the Society of Scrolls 2, 4, 5, and 9.
Since it is highly improbable that either of the two Kaifeng scrolls still being held by the Society in 1929 would have been sold without the consent of the General Committee, or that journal entries showing receipts of payment for the scrolls would not have been made once their sale was consummated, it should be possible to learn something about the disposition of the two scrolls from these records. The problem here, however, is that a thorough search of the documentation can be undertaken only on the premises of the Bodleian, a requirement that has made it impractical for me to pursue the matter further. However, the reader whose fancy runs to hunting for buried treasure is invited to take advantage of the leads that have been provided here and dig his way through the great hoard of London Society materials now cached away at Duke Humphrey's Library in Oxford.
In 1851 the Chinese Repository reported the following concerning the unnumbered scroll that had just been purchased by the Delegates from the Kaifeng Jews: "Among the six copies brought out by the Chinese delegates one was found to be very old and defective. In the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries the Jesuit missionaries had learned that of the rolls in the synagogue twelve were in honour of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, but the thirteenth roll, said to be five hundred years older than the others, was dedicated to Moses. This last has been thought to be an ancient copy that was presented by a Mohammedan who had received it as a bequest from a dying Israelite at Canton, and it is quite possible that the old roll brought out from K'ai-feng by the Chinese delegates was this copy....This roll is made up of two or more copies, having been pieced or patched since passing through the waters, probably of the flood of 1642. Also the skin does not show that it had been as well dressed and prepared as the later copies. There was only about two-thirds of the Pentateuch in this roll, and of this only about one-half was legible, many of its parts having been left quite blank by the action of the water. The other five rolls are newer and fresher in appearance."
The statement in the Chinese Repository that the oldest of the six scrolls bought in 1851 contained only about two-thirds of the Pentateuch does not agree with Bishop Smith's assertion, in his letter of 22 August 1851 (previously cited in the present study), that all six scrolls were complete. However, Bishop Smith had not as yet seen any of the scrolls when he wrote this letter, and we may suppose that he was merely repeating a misstatement he had picked up from an as-yet unidentified source.
White provides an old photograph of a section from the London Society's unnumbered scroll which includes the closing portions of Exodus and the opening portions of Leviticus. The caption given under this illustration notes that the scroll "is said to be in a Persian hand of the fifteenth century, and might well be the Roll dedicated to Moses." The style of the calligraphy in White's reproduction seems to be akin to that appearing in various passages in the American Bible Society copy, at least insofar as it is possible to determine this from the comparison of the photographically reduced facsimile in White's book and the similarly reduced microfilm negative available to me. The calligraphy of the London Society un- numbered scroll, like that of the ABS scroll, differs greatly from the calligraphy of the other scrolls I have seen.
It should be mentioned here that the suggestion made by Berkowitz in connection with the ABS exemplar apropos the unsuitability of an incomplete scroll for use in synagogal readings would apply equally to the London Society unnumbered scroll. If the latter was incomplete, it would presumably not have been used for liturgical readings in the synagogue, and it should not have been among the thirteen which were kept in the ark of the Kaifeng synagogue. We know that the copy called the Scroll of Moses was in use at the synagogue in 1722 because Father Jean Domenge, who was present when a scroll was read at the Shemini Azeret services that year, identified that scroll quite specifically as the Scroll of Moses. That Pentateuch, moreover, is unquestionably the same exemplar that was described in the Journal of the American Oriental Society (3 , pp. 235-40), as incomplete and "more ancient than the rest." This ancient scroll, we are told, was offered by the Kaifeng Jews to the Chinese Delegates, who at first declined to buy it, presumably because it was fragile and obviously incomplete; but then, having changed their minds, they included it in their purchase and brought it back to their principals in Shanghai together with the five other scrolls and numerous smaller liturgical and other synagogal documents that had been offered to them.
We may therefore deduce that the incomplete and badly battered unnumbered scroll which was purchased by the Delegates in 1851 and was then held by the London Society for the better part of a century was neither the Scroll of Moses nor one of the thirteen purportedly in use in the Kaifeng synagogue since 1663. It would seem to be, more probably, a ritually unserviceable scroll that was kept in a storeroom (a genizah, that is), and that its skins date back to substantially before the flood of 1642.
That the Kaifeng Jews stored away old documents is suggested by the experience attributed to a Jewish officer in the German army, Colonel Jonas Lehmann, who allegedly visited Kaifeng in 1899. However, Lehmann's report of his contacts with the Kaifeng Jews (or, more likely, the report attributed to Lehmann) is confused and far from reliable. He states, for example, that in the cellar of the home of a member of the Jewish community of Kaifeng he was shown "numerous papyrus and parchment rolls, the oldest probably writ- ten twenty-two or twenty-three centuries ago[!]." Lehmann’s account also contains several other statements that are equally difficult to believe.
THE VOLONTERI SCROLL
The bulk of the information we have about the provenance and ul- timate fate of the Volonteri scroll is derived from a paragraph in the June 1899 issue of the Lettres de Jersey, no. 45, another paragraph in Father Jérome Tobar's Inscriptions juives de K'ai-fong-fou, published initially in 1900, and several lines and a footnote in the Tobar work. We learn from the footnote that news had just been received from Kaifeng that a Torah scroll "existant chez un des Juifs" had been purchased by Msgr. Volonteri, then Apostolic Vi- car of the Honan Vicarate, for the mission at Kiang-nan. The Lettres tell us that the price was about 400 taels, and that the scroll was 36 meters long and 50 centimeters high. (Tobar also gives 36 meters as the length of the scroll, but sets its height at 58 centimeters, which would seem to be the more likely figure.) The scroll is reported to be complete and to contain 239 columns of 49 lines each. The skins are said to be white, thick and well preserved, with a few appearing newer than the rest. The scroll was wound around a single rod, on one end of which there was a knob which showed evidence of having once been gilded. Some portions of the skins near the end of the scroll are described as badly damaged. The damaged skins, says Tobar, were temporarily detached from the scroll (presumably by the priests at the mission) in order to forestall further deterioration; and the scroll and the detached sections "were sent to some Hebrew scholars in Paris who in due course will be able to give us the results of their examinations."
In a lecture delivered on 17 June 1900 Marcus N. Adler stated that "we learn that recently a Roll has been sent on to Paris" from China. Adler may be presumed to have gotten this information very shortly before delivering his talk from a letter written in Shanghai on 2 May 1900 by S.J. Solomon to Adler's brother Her-ann, then chief rabbi of England. "A few months ago," Solomon had written, "some missionaries bought a Scroll of the Law from our co-religionists in Kaifeng-fu & brought it down to Shanghai & after a few days it was sent, I believe, to Paris."
Substantiation for the fact that the scroll actually reached Paris is provided in an undated clipping preserved at the library of the Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati) in which it is stated that this scroll was displayed at the Paris Exhibition of 1900, having been brought there in a black box bearing an inscription that it was the property of Father Tobar.
As reported in Part 1, chapter 2, note 18, of the present study, the extensive inquiries made by Mlle. Séguy of the Bibliothèque Nationale among French specialists in Oriental and Hebrew manuscripts concerning the Volonteri scroll have yielded no trace of what happened to it. It would appear, however, that neither she nor the scholars she contacted were aware that the scroll had been displayed at the Paris Exhibition.
The scroll was later sought for by Father Joseph Dehergne of the Jesuit Archives at Chantilly, who also knew nothing about its display at the Paris Exhibition. He was unable, as it turned out, to find any trace what soever of the scroll either in France or in the several Italian libraries in which he suspected that it might have been deposited. His efforts, in fact, led him to question whether the scroll ever reached France. It appeared to him, he therefore wrote me (in letters dated 19 April 1973 and 5 May 1973), that the precarious political situation in which the Jesuit Order found itself in 1900 vis-à-vis the French Government may have led to a change of plans regarding the transfer of the scroll to France. I should think, however, that the preponderance of the evidence we have, scanty though this evidence happens to be, indicates that the scroll actually arrived in France and was displayed at the Paris Exhibition.
SCROLL 9 (y)
Scroll 9 was one of the six Torahs purchased in 1851 in Kaifeng by the two Chinese Delegates representing the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity among the Jews. The scroll was brought by the Delegates directly to Shanghai, and was then almost immediately transferred to the Missionary College of St. Paul's, in Hong Kong, an institution operating under the supervision of the Bishop of Victoria. The retention of this scroll in Hong Kong was authorized by the General Committee of the London Society, as noted in the Society's General Committee Minutes dated 25 February 1852 and 22 September 1852. The texts of the two pertinent resolutions are given earlier in the present study.
In the resolution of 25 February 1852 the Rev. Mr. Coleman was given the loan of Scroll 9 for study purposes, and with the understanding that he would return it within six months. It may well be, however, that Coleman had previously enjoyed access to this scroll, for as early as that same year Samuel Davidson was able to report in his Treatise on Biblical Criticism that Coleman had already done considerable work on its text:
By the kindness of the Rev. Mr. Coleman of Ventnor, who has collated one of the rolls, I am enabled to state that it is on goat-skins, not on sheep-skins. The writing is beautiful but somewhat peculiar, without points, accents, or large or small letters, and without any division into books, chapters, or verses. Where the divisions marked samekh and pe occur in our present text [i.e., in the text of printed Hebrew bibles], there is a small break or hiatus. When pe-pe-pe occurs, there is generally a blank space equivalent of one line. The age of the roll is not known. There is no clue to its antiquity. Each column consists of forty-nine lines; each line terminates with a perfect word; and each column with a perfect sentence. To effect this, some of the letters are dilated in a very extraordinary manner. The letters are smaller than those in the fac-similes of the other MSS., more regular, and more elegant. As to the text itself, though several errors of transcription occur, and some variations affecting the orthography, there are none that can be considered deviations from the sense of the Masoretic text.
In 1851 the skins of this scroll were reported to be numbered sequentially and to total forty-seven; and in 1868 it was reported that Skin 31 was "very much damaged and torn."
In April 1868 W. R. B. (apparently W. R. Bridgman, though perhaps W.R. Beach) wrote that he had made a personal examination of the scroll "in the care of the Lord Bishop of Victoria." Regrettably, however, W. R. B. did not provide us with the date of this examination. He did, however, provide the following information:
This Roll is not quite perfect. It commences only at Genesis XXIX,30 and ends with the last verse of Deut. XXXIV [the last verse of the Pentateuch]. The first eight skins [presumably of Genesis], I am told, were [previously] sent to England for further examination. The Rabbinic teth (No. 9) is written on the back of the first, as it now exists. [Apparently, the scroll was later rewound on one rod, with the last skin of Deuteronomy on the outside, this becoming the first which could then be unrolled. The number of the scroll would of course be on the back of the last skin of the scroll, not the first.] With the exception of the missing chapters in Genesis it is, I believe, a complete copy of the Pentateuch.
We learn from W. R. B. that the Hong Kong scroll had a single rod approximately ½ inch in diameter and 27 inches high. "The upper end of this roller is lacquered in Chinese style, and pointed in shape," he noted. He reported that the scroll was 95 feet long, but would probably have been 16 or 18 feet longer than that before the removal of the first eight skins. "It now consists of thirty-nine skins," he continued, "the last being numbered mem zain, 47, which total is obtained by adding the 8 missing ones before mentioned, and is said to have formerly contained 239 columns." There are, we are told, 49 lines to the column.
We must, however, question W.R.B.’s assertion that the scroll had originally contained forty-seven skins, a figure which falls substantially short of the number of skins previously noted in this study in connection with Scrolls 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 12. Was the last skin of Deuteronomy really marked forty-seven?
We know that Scroll 9 was in Hong Kong in 1887, a reference to its presence in the city's museum having been made on p. 11 of the Jewish Chronicle (London) on 21 October 1887.
John Fryer may have examined Scroll 9 shortly before his fellow missionary W. R. B. did. In an address delivered by Fryer at a meeting of the Council of Jewish Women in San Francisco on 6 November 1902 he makes this statement: "The rolls of the law [the six purchased in 1851] have been sent to different places and carefully preserved. One is at City Hall at Hong Kong. Others are in the hands of the Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews, in London. One copy was in my charge in St. Paul's College, Hong Kong, in 5622 and 5623 [1862 and 1863], and was kept in the library. A stupid coolie, wanting a piece of soft leather, deliberately cut off about a yard in length, surreptitiously, and had been dismissed for other bad con- duct before his fault had been discovered."
Fryer's account poses two problems. (That he did not know of the locations of all the scrolls when he made his talk in 1902 is not important here.) To begin with, we are required to be cautious about his claim that one scroll "is [italics mine] at the City Hall at Hong Kong" as we compare it with his statement that "one copy was in my charge at St. Paul's College" in 1862 and 1863. He cannot have been suggesting in 1902 that there were two scrolls in Hong Kong. He must have meant, one would think, that the scroll that had been in his care four decades earlier was now at the City Hall of Hong Kong. Secondly, if the Chinese employee cut off one yard of the skin — presumably one or two skins — was this missing segment later recovered? I am left with the impression that since the man had already been dismissed when the loss was discovered, the stolen portion was not recovered. The stolen section may of course have come from any part of the scroll, but it seems more likely that it would have been cut off one end or the other. If the scroll was wound around the rod with Deuteronomy on the outside and if the yard of skin which was taken was the last, then the terminal skin of the scroll was lost; and this would be the skin that contained the number of the scroll — that is, tet. (When W.R.B. saw the scroll, however, it contained the closing verse of Deuteronomy and, therefore, the last skin of that book, but it also lacked the first eight skins of Genesis which, he reported, had probably been sent to England.) If the scroll's winding was such as to leave the Genesis portion on the outside, then the detached section would probably have consisted of Skin 9 and perhaps, as has been noted above, Skin 10. It would seem, consequently, that if this scroll is ever found it may lack nine or ten skins, and perhaps also the closing skin of Deuteronomy — the skin, that is, that bore the number tet on its reverse side.
In 1899, according to Tobar, Scroll 9 was in the Public Library of Hong Kong, having been placed there by Bishop Burden and Reverend Cobbold. The scroll was lent to the library, Tobar reports — it was not a gift.
The presence of the scroll in Hong Kong during the opening years of the 20th century is further confirmed by a statement made on p. 151 of J. Dyer Ball's The Celestial and his Religions (Hong Kong: 1906): "Near one of the windows in the City Hall Library in this Colony [Hong Kong], there is a glass case, in which lies a large Hebrew roll, containing the Pentateuch."
In 1906 Arthur Sopher wrote that "one of the scrolls was for a time in the museum of Hong Kong [the library of St. Paul's College or, perhaps, the City Hall of Hong Kong?], and about fifteen years ago was presented by the city authorities to Ohel Leah Synagogue, who now have it. It is a complete[!] scroll of the Law, in a fine state of preservation, and is eventually destined, so the Synagogue has decided, for the Hebrew University at Jerusalem."
Let us start with the matter of the completeness and the superior condition of the scroll. If Sopher is correct in saying that it was complete, it would have to be assumed that the eight skins which had some decades previously been sent to England for examination had now been returned to Hong Kong and reunited with the scroll. It would also have to be assumed that the stolen skin(s) had been recovered and reincorporated in the scroll.
After reading Sopher's statement regarding Scroll 9 I wrote to the Hebrew University and asked whether the scroll was in its possession. Unfortunately, the two letters which I have received from the University (actually, from the Jewish National and University Library, which serves as the library of the Hebrew University), one dated 25 April 1973, and the other dated 21 May 1973, state quite emphatically that the University does not have a Kaifeng Torah scroll.
In the early 1970s, when Sopher was living in New York City, I asked him (as mentioned above in n. 14, Part 1, Chapter 2) about his 1926 report that the Hong Kong scroll was destined to be sent to the Hebrew University. He replied rather curtly that he had written what he had then believed to be the facts of the matter and that he could add nothing new to what he had then written.
I have since that time sporadically made contact with several members of the Jewish community of Hong Kong, but have not been able to find anybody who has any knowledge of the present whereabouts of the scroll. However, the late Rabbi Dr. W. Hirsch wrote me from Haifa on 1 July 1973 as follows: "I do not think there ever was a Sefer Torah of the Chinese Jews in the small Hebrew congregation at Hong Kong. I was Rabbi of the once flourishing Jewish congregation of Shanghai from 1921 to 1924. On my way to Shanghai I spent three days among the Jews of Hong Kong who entertained me liberally and showed me everything they had in their congregation. I was in touch with the Hong Kong community while I was in Shanghai. I would have known if there was a Kaifeng Torah in Hong Kong."
Rabbi Josef Zeitin of Odessa, Texas, tells me that he was in Hong Kong shortly before the outbreak of World War II, and that there was no Kaifeng scroll in the possession of the city's Jewish community at that time.
According to White, "in 1942 a Chinese Protestant pastor recently arrived from Hong Kong reported that he had seen a case which contained a Pentateuch roll similar to that in the Chinese Library of the Royal Ontario Museum, in the public library of Hong Kong. This case may have contained the roll which was deposited in the library by Bishop Burden."
Miss Elizabeth J. Eisenhart and Dr. Erroll Rhodes of the American Bible Society have kindly provided me with photocopies of correspondence that was carried on early in 1971 regarding Scroll 9. In one letter, dated 5 February 1971, the senior librarian of the Urban Council Libraries of Hong Kong wrote concerning this scroll: "I have checked our stock and enquired at the Museum & Art Gallery, City Hall, but we have no knowledge of it." A second letter was written on 15 February 1971 by H. Anthony Rydings, librarian of the University of Hong Kong. "I fear," he wrote me, "[that] there is little hope of finding the scroll now, as it certainly was never deposited in this Library, and the contents of the old City Hall Library were handed over to the Director of Public Works, 'who shall dispose of them, or any of them as the Governor in Council shall direct' (Ordinance no. 22 of 24th June, 1932, section 4 (2) — see H.K. Govt. Gazette, 1932, p. 487). Even if the scroll had survived that long, which is ten years earlier than the report of the Chinese Protestant pastor recorded by Bishop White [see above], it would be unlikely that an enquiry to the P. W. D. at this stage would produce any positive results, as most government records were victims of the Japanese occupation. This is not, of course, to say that the scroll has necessarily been lost for ever: only that I cannot suggest any likely way of tracing its movements since 1932."
During September 1973, in response to a letter in which I had mentioned Sopher's remark concerning the transfer of Scroll 9 to the Ohel Leah Synagogue, Mr. Rydings wrote me that this bit of information had not been known to him previously, and that it seemed well worth investigating. Accordingly, he notified the officials of the Ohel Leah Synagogue about the Sopher claim.
As matters turned out, Dr. Donald Daniel Leslie, who visited Hong Kong during January 1974, and Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, who was there during the summer of 1974, inquired at the Ohel Leah Synagogue concerning Scroll 9. Each was kind enough to write me that he was not able to find any trace of the scroll at the Synagogue or to locate any member of the synagogue who could furnish any information whatsoever relating to it.
I have gone into considerable detail regarding the missing Hong Kong scroll primarily because so many individuals have denied that it was ever in the possession of the city's Ohel Leah Synagogue. I submit, accordingly, the evidence provided in the 8 March 1914 issue of a newsletter issued by Temple Keneseth Israel of Philadelphia, in which the recently retired rabbi of the congregation, Joseph Krauskopf, writes that he had just examined a Kaifeng Torah scroll then held by Ohel Leah. He had been brought to the synagogue by several of its members, whose names he gives, for the express purpose of seeing the scroll which, as he explains, was taken out for his inspection from "a wooden casket, opening on hinges."
This scroll, he goes on, had previously been "in the possession of a bishop stationed here, who had surrendered it to the Govern- ment, by whom it was placed in the local museum. The Jewish community of this town petitioned the Government to turn it over to their synagogue. Their petition was granted, about five years ago, on the condition that they hold themselves responsible for its pre- servation and safe-keeping."
There is a story in circulation, it should be added, that shortly before (or perhaps during) the occupation of Hong Kong by the Japanese, a member of the Ohel Leah Synagogue whose name was Weiss buried one of its Torah scrolls in order to keep it out of the hands of the Japanese. There is no evidence, however, that the story is true or, if it is true, that the Torah Weiss buried was the Kaifeng exemplar owned by the synagogue. In any event, Weiss is deceased, and if he did indeed bury a Torah, no one has ever come forth with any information as to where in the Hong Kong area this was done.
The question of whether the Hong Kong scroll will ever be found remains moot, but any search for it must start with the premise that its last known custodian was the Ohel Leah Syna- gogue, notwithstanding the fact that the members of the congre- gation retain no written records or oral traditions that might remind them of its former presence there.
OTHER MISSING SCROLLS
In 1663 thirteen Torah scrolls were installed in the ark of the newly rebuilt synagogue of the Kaifeng Jewish community. These thirteen were described in the stelae erected that year in the courtyard of the synagogue as being complete, and were obviously considered entirely suitable for use in the religious services that were conducted in the sanctuary. There is nothing in the reports of western visitors to the community to suggest that any of these thirteen scrolls had been damaged or destroyed in the period between 1663 and 1851. Nor do we have any suggestions from the Kaifeng Jews themselves that might lead us to think that any harm had come to their scrolls during those years.
Any ritually unfit (posul) scrolls which the community may have owned, aside, that is, from the thirteen usable Pentateuchs kept in the ark of its synagogue, would presumably have been preserved, most likely in a genizah. Indeed, the Kaifeng Jews appear to have possessed a fair number of unusable skins, as well as several incomplete or otherwise damaged scrolls — texts, in other words, that had been salvaged from the flood of 1642 but had not been incorporated into any of the thirteen scrolls which were placed in the rebuilt synagogue in 1663.
I believe that of the seven Kaifeng Sifrei Torah I have personally examined, one, the badly deteriorated and incomplete exemplar at ABS, is a genizah relic which dates back some centuries before the flood of 1642, and was probably sewn together of skins salvaged from two or more Torahs that had been washed away in the flood. I believe too that it was not read at synagogal services after the flood. I should think that each of the six other scrolls I have seen was used in worship services at the Kaifeng synagogue from 1663 onward. If I am right, it would follow that of the thirteen scrolls that were installed in the synagogal ark in 1663 I have been able to find six. I suspect, moreover, that the incomplete and unnumbered scroll formerly held by the London Society was not only liturgically unserviceable when it was acquired by the Society in 1851, but had also been so ever since the flood of 1642, or even before that. If this is the case, the London Society exemplar could not have been the Scroll of Moses; for the Scroll of Moses, as we know, was a ritually usable scroll, having been read aloud in the synagogue during the Shemini Azeret services of 1722. The London Society exemplar, like the ABS copy, must therefore be construed as a supernumerary manuscript, probably a genizah relic. Neither the London Society nor the ABS scroll, accordingly, would have been among the thirteen that were installed in the synagogue in 1663.
Of the thirteen Torahs placed in the synagogue that year, the six I have located are the exemplars presently being held at the Cambridge University Library, the Österreichische Nationalbiblio- thek, Bridwell Library, the British Library, the Bodleian Library and the Jewish Theological Seminary Library. Seven of the thirteen are therefore missing; and of these seven — judging from the vari- ous descriptions available to us in the literature — Scroll 9 and the Volonteri copy would have been ritually serviceable (by Kaifeng standards, that is) when they left Kaifeng. Moreover, we have no evidence whatsoever that by 1851, when the Chinese Delegates acquired much, or perhaps even most, of the Kaifeng synagogal manuscripts, the Scroll of Moses had become ritually unfit (again, by Kaifeng standards). This venerable scroll, I should think, is among those that are now missing.
Seemingly lost to us, too, are the loose skins from the Book of Numbers which were obtained by the Delegates in 1851. There may, in addition, be other genizah skins or genizah scrolls for which I cannot account.
As for the segment containing the first twelve skins of Genesis that was auctioned off by Sotheby’s in 1986, we can only hope that its present anonymous owner will in the course of time reveal the story of its provenance and make it available for public inspection. Of the seventeen Torah scrolls that are listed in the catalogue of the famous Sassoon Collection, two are associated with the Jewish congregation of Kaifeng. Item 496 of the catalogue (vol I, p. 554) represents an incomplete scroll in the Sassoon Collection which is said to be "in a sq[uare] Persian hand of about the 17th century]." After this, the catalogue states, that "this scroll is supposed to have been used by the Jews of Ka-fung-foo." However, the scroll's skin height, as reported in the catalogue, is greater than that of the Kaifeng exemplars we know about, and there are fifty-two lines to the column compared to the forty-nine which generally characterize the extant Kaifeng Torahs. Moreover, the first ten chapters of this Sassoon Torah (the text of which extends only to the thirty-eighth chapter of the Pentateuch) display tagin — that is to say, orna- mental crownlets akin to typographic serifs which are attached to certain letters of the Hebrew alphabet — and nobody has yet reported the presence of these small markings in any scroll which is definitely known to have been written in Kaifeng. It seems highly improbable to me, therefore, that this Sassoon scroll could be of Kaifeng origin.
It should also be noted that the Sassoon Catalogue does not tell us how the Jews of Kaifeng could have obtained a Torah "in a sq[uare] Persian hand of about the 17th cent[ury]" when all intercourse between these Jews and their coreligionists in other countries had apparently been cut off long before the beginning of that century. (See above, Part 1, Chapter 1, n. 4.) In its description of the scroll that is designated as item no. 750 (vol. I, pp. 555-56), the catalogue speaks of the presence of "three different sq[uare] hands resembling some of the Scrolls of the Ka-fung-foo Jews," but does not specifically assign this scroll to Kaifeng. The description in the catalogue of item 750 does not, in my opinion, indicate a close tie between it and the Torah scrolls of the Kaifeng congregation.
We are told on p. 20 of the Jewish Chronicle of 30 November 1906 that "the Revs. W.T. Gidney and F.L. Denman have sent a case of Hebrew manuscripts from the Jewish synagogue at Kai-Fung-Foo, capital of the Honan province in China [for display at ‘the present Exhibition’]. They are copies of the ritual used by the ‘Orphan Colony’ [the Kaifeng Jews], and were obtained by a mission of enquiry sent out to that community in the year 1851. The synagogue is said to have been built in 1190 [sic], and its ritual, differing as it does from ordinary Jewish rituals, is of the utmost possible interest." This statement, it will be noted, mentions manuscripts used for ritual purposes. The question may be raised, accordingly: When he used the expression "copies of the ritual," was the writer of the article referring solely to prayer texts, or did he also mean booklets containing individual Torah readings (para-shiyot), or even loose Torah sheets? I have not, however, found any record to the effect that the documents were sent to the exhibition on loan by the London Society. Nor have I run across any evidence that might indicate that the Society ever brought any loose Torah skins to England.