Contract Catch of the Day: The Army Needs a Torah

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Ah, the things you can learn by searching the many websites devoted to government contracting, job recruitment and materiel.

The U.S. Army wants a Torah scroll.

And not just any Torah scroll: they want a Sephardic Torah -- that is, a Torah prepared especially by and for Jews of Sephardic, or Spanish, descent. Why? One's mind conjures up all sorts of special operations scenarios, but probably, the Army needs a new Torah for observant Jews who go through basic training. A good Torah will cost you (the taxpayers) about $40,000.

The U.S. Army Contract Command at Ft. Benning, GA is conducting something called an "online reverse competitive auction" for the scroll's construction. Torahs are not mass-produced. They are individually scripted, and if the scrivener makes even the smallest of errors, the entire scroll must be redone. That's one reason why the Army is asking for a scroll a year before they need it.  Here are the specific requirements for the Army's Torah:

1) The parchment should be 56cm tall made from a kosher animal processed by Bock, Kosher Parchment Manufacturer.

2) The height of parchment must be 56cm tall.

3) The actually Torah must be written by the Sephardic Sofer Rabbi G. Raviv, certified as a sofer and examiner by Machon Mishmeret STaM.  The Torah must be written in Sephardic block script written with Nahari ink following the Sephardic tradition and rulings of the Rambam and Rav Ovadia Yosef.  The script should be identical to the attached photograph and newly written. (See Photograph)

4) The finished Torah must be checked manually by the certified examiner Rabbi G. Davis who has studied under the master examiner Rabbi Akiva Garber, certified by the Belz Rabbinical Court.

5) After manually checking the parchment and the writing, the completed parchment must be Computer checked 2 times for textual errors by Machon Beit Yosef.

6) After the parchment is written it should be sown by Rabbi M. Hirshman IAW the laws of Sefer Torah by the Rambam and other Sephardic Poskim.

7) The Torah, upon completion and inspection, should be placed in a wood case of the Sephardic tradition.  The outside of the case, inlayed with the Star of David and appropriate for a 56cm scroll and be made IAW the appropriate Sephardic Jewish laws.  There should be a place on the case to affix a latch to close the case. The case should be constructed by the carpenter Y. Orian and be of the appearance of the attached photograph. (See Photograph)

8) The Torah and container should completed and received by Fort Benning NLT 20 Jan 2011.  Anytime early would be acceptable.

 


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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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