Capitol hosts collection of rare religious artifacts, scrolls

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Visitors to the state Capitol on Wednesday were treated to an ancient artifact and scroll exhibit.

The Capitol Commission of Kentucky and MIKRA Research Laboratories brought the display to Frankfort, featuring several rare and valuable scrolls, including several Torah scrolls, an illustrated scroll of the Book of Esther, and a 600-year old Taj Torah. 

“Some of these scrolls have survived horrific periods of human history,” said Steve Weaver, state minister for the Capitol Commission, and senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfot.  “One comes from Germany, so we know it survived the Holocaust.  Another scroll was secretly airlifted during Operation Eagle’s Wings, a secret airlift out of Yemen in the late 1940s.”

Weaver said the display illustrates the importance of societies having religious freedom and tolerance of many faiths.

“These scrolls have gone through periods where their survival was contested,” he said, despite religious intolerance throughout history, rabbis made sure the scrolls were preserved for future generations.

“They are a living testimony,” Weaver said.

The scrolls were on display in Arkansas before arriving in Frankfort and will be at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville next week.

At the Arkansas display, MIKRA Principal Researcher Professor Brian Rickett presented a lecture on the origins of the manuscripts and the cultural, religious and political issues at the time of creation. Rickett referred to the scrolls and artifacts as witnesses to crimes that must never reoccur.

Weaver said when MIKRA offered to display the collection at the Capitol, he jumped at the opportunity.

“These documents underlie the faiths of both Judaism and Christianity,” Weaver said.  “Their significance for western civilization and world history in general cannot be overstated. In a day when many of the lessons of the Holocaust are being forgotten, it is important to have these touchstones that remind us of the importance of religious and ethnic diversity and toleration.”

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