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After Centuries: A Rare Bible of the Jews of Ethiopia Reaches Jerusalem


A rare copy of the Oeiryt [Torah] used by Ethiopian Jews was welcomed into the collection of the National Library on Monday, 21.3.2016′ to the sounds of singing, spontaneous dancing, ululations, and the handing out of sweets.


The book, translated from Hebrew to the ancient Ge’ez language, was written hundreds of years ago and was used by, among others, the great spiritual leader of Ethiopian Jews in the Tigray Region Kes Isaac Yaso The original hand-written manuscript of the “Oreiyt” (the word stems from the Aramaic word “oreiyta,” meaning Torah) contains the Five Books of Moses along with the books of Joshua, Judges and the Book of Ruth. The Oreiyt is part of the matsahaf qados (the Holy Scripture) of the Ethiopian community.


The book figured prominently in the life of the community: the celebration of festivals and holidays as well as the daily lives of the Jews of Ethiopia were conducted according to it and the community attributes it great sanctity. With his immigration to Israel the Kes decreed that the book was destined for Jerusalem, and now it has reached its intended ultimate destination.

This is a very rare treasure as there are almost no existing copies of the Oreiyt either in Israel or the world.


The Oreiyt experienced many ordeals until it eventually reached the NLI. The Jewish priests of the community handed down the book from generation to generation. Yaakov Guncel, a nephew of the Kes said that his grandfather was in possession of the book back when he lived in the Wolkeit Region. At that time, at the


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