Montefiore Scroll

This scroll has been with the community since its earliest days, but was only recognised as a ‘Montefiore Scroll’ by a Sofer in 2021. It is one of a series of 30 scrolls commissioned by the philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885) during the last decades of his life for a fee of £100 each. The scrolls were produced in Vilna by Rabbi Zvi-Hirsh Viloshen, using a semi-mechanical process, with the crowns and other decorations being added by hand; the script is Sefardi. Several of these scrolls are held by the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Lauderdale Road and by United Synagogue communities.

There has been some controversy over the halachic acceptability of these scrolls, but R. Yechiel Michel Epstein of Novardok (1829-1908), in his widely respected Arukh ha-Shulchan, ruled in their favour.

Our community’s earliest home was Finnart House in Weybridge, then housing a Jewish Approved School. Charles E. (Sebag-)Montefiore (1884-1960, from the Sebag Montefiores, descended from Sir Moses’ sister) and subsequently his son Denzil (1914-1996) were Governors of the school for many years. It seems likely that this connection lead to us being given one of the Montefiore Scrolls.

Information kindly provided by Robert Cohen, Jennifer Jankel and Sofer Bernard Benarroch.