Kent County

Centuries-old Torah on display at local college

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Tucked into a quiet Wyoming neighborhood, Grace Christian University is the recipient of something most people have never seen.

"It's a rare piece because it's one of a kind, handwritten by one scribe in about 1790," Grace Christian University Library Director Jeff Brodrick said.

Written in Hebrew, the Torah is made up of the Five Books of Moses and is the Jewish holy scripture. Christians consider it the beginning of the Old Testament.

The scroll held by the university is about as old as the United States.

"It's an incredible privilege for Grace Christian University to be given the stewardship of a Torah scroll and the opportunity for our students to be able to see it, interact with it and celebrate the history of scripture as it's been handed down through the centuries," Brian Sherstad, executive vice president of Grace Christian University, said.

When Brodrick taught the course "Origins of the Bible," he and his students traveled to Princeton, the University of Michigan and the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which are homes to some of the oldest and rarest Bibles and scriptures.

But it was a chance meeting in West Michigan with a man from a group called God's Ancient Library that ultimately brought the Torah scroll to Grace.

"You don't say no to that. It was awesome," Brodrick said.

Brodrick and University President Ken Kemper traveled to Chicago in September to receive the special gift.

"There were about 40,000 of these documents before World War II. After the invasion of Europe, there are only 20,000 remaining," Brodrick said.

As Grace Christian University works to spread the word of God, it doesn't want to keep the scroll hidden. It is on display in the university's library.

"The greater community can come see the scroll and celebrate with us," Sherstad said.

The Torah is available to view between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Jacob and Henrietta Molenkamp reading room of the Bultema Memorial Library on campus, which is off of Aldon Street SW west of Clyde Park Avenue.


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