Baghdadi Torah Case (Tik)

This Torah case, or tik in Hebrew, originated in Iraq, home to one of the world’s most ancient and historically significant Jewish communities.

Unknown Artist

A tik, a type of Torah case, is the Sephardi and Mizrahi manner of housing a Torah scroll. The cylindrical case consists of two equal parts that are held together with a hinge at the back. These cases are typically made of wood and may be sheathed with finely worked silver. They provide both adornment and protection for the scrolls. During services, the tik is placed upright on the reader’s desk and the Torah is chanted without removing the scroll from the case. By contrast, in the Ashkenazi tradition, the Torah's dressings are completely removed and the scroll unrolled onto a flat table for reading.

The Spertus collection contains many outstanding examples of Torah cases from across the Sephardi and Mizrahi world. Each culture produced a tik of distinctive shape, material, and decoration. This case’s onion-domed top, miniature finials, scrolling foliate silverwork, and deerskin scroll are typical of the Jewish community of Baghdad. The Iraqi Jewish community dates back to the Babylonian exile and thrived as a center of Jewish learning. In the 20th century, Nazi propaganda and later Zionist activity led to the persecution and migration of Iraqi Jews.

  • Tik

    Sana'a, Yemen
    19th century 

  • Tik

    Western Persia (Kurdistan)

  • Tik

    early 19th century with modern additions

  • Tik

    20th century

Name: Baghdadi Torah Case (Tik)
Artist: Unknown Artist
Origin: Iraq, 1897
Medium: Glass Beads, Ink On Deerskin Scroll, Silver, Wood
Dimensions: 40 15/16 x 11 1/4 in.
Credit: Gift of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El from the Maurice Spertus Collection
Catalog Number: 74.19
Asher LibraryA History of the Jews in Baghdad

David Soloman Sassoon (New York: AMS Press, 1982)

Asher LibraryThe Jews of Iraq: 3000 Years of History and Culture

Nissim Rejwan (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1985)

Asher LibraryLast Days in Babylon: The History of a Family, the Story of a Nation

Marina Benjamin (New York: Free Press, 2006)

Asher LibraryFrom Baghdad to Brooklyn: Growing Up in a Jewish-Arabic Family in Midcentury America

Jack Marshall (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2005)

Asher LibraryMy Father’s Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq

Ariel Sabar (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008)

Classroom ResourceClass activities and discussion topics

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