Torah without the Bora: The Living Torah Museum, New York


The likes of the British Museum, Louvre and Metropolitan may get the lion’s share of publicity, artefacts and controversy, but small museums are the staple of any dedicated culture lover. And while meandering through the interweb I came across Brooklyn’s Living Torah Museum, one of New York’s quaintest collections.

While its illustrious downtown neighbours are afforded giant beaux arts buildings, the Living Torah Museum is in a private home in Borough Park, 1601 41st Street. Its surroundings may not be as epic as most museums, but its collection is not to be sniffed at: since its inception curator Rabbi Shimon Deutsch has amassed over 900 artefacts worth a combined $14m (9.1m).

Its surroundings might not be epic, but it boasts a fearsome collection

Among the items, astonishingly, is the oldest copy of the Ten Commandments in the world, dating back around 2,500 years. Ancient pottery from the times of King Hezekiah and a 3,500-year-old toy chariot are other highlights. In total the collection is divided into four sections: ‘Torah Times’; ‘Talmud Times’; ’39 Melahos’ and ‘Great Torah Personalities’. Rabbi Deutsch also frequently gives lectures on the history of the Jewish faith.

The vast majority of visitors to the museum are Jewish, but its collection alone is impressive enough for anyone interested in biblical history – and according to the Biblical Archaeology Review it’s the only museum in the US solely dedicated to the archaeological history of the sacred text. It’s certainly a hidden gem, something we’re constantly finding during our Ancient World in London video series – places like the Maunsell Sea Forts and the Petrie Museum. If anyone has visited the Living Torah Museum, let me know !