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Anglican priest's mission: Get treasured Torah scrolls out of Iraq

Published August 28, 2012 5:08 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Amid the bullets, mines and mayhem of Iraq lies a buried treasure: 365 Torah scrolls. And one man is doing his best to unearth them before they deteriorate in the subterranean vault of the national museum where they are kept.His name is Andrew White, and he is an Anglican priest.White is known as "the Vicar of Baghdad," writes Ari Werth at the Jewish website aish.com, and is a hero to Iraq's Christians and its few remaining Jews.The Anglican cleric first learned of the scrolls during a 2005 tour of the national museum, which had been ransacked in the aftermath of the 2003 American invasion. And what he saw was deeply disturbing. The sacred texts had not been properly preserved, but were stacked on dirty floors."Rats were eating some of the parchment," White told Werth.Today, seven Jews are left in Iraq, and White would like to see the scrolls moved to Israel or to an American Jewish organization, the article says, but the Iraqi government wants to hold on to "its vast collection of Jewish artifacts and Torah scrolls."Though there are no easy ways to get the parchments out of the country, Werth writes, "White won't rest until the scrolls are safe."Peggy Fletcher Stack