The first Shabbat I was in Yerushalayim (Parshat Shoftim) my father and I davened at the Italian Synagogue. While the nusach there follows the older Roman nusach, the Sifrei Torah are caparisoned in vestments which follow the Spanish-Portuguese custom, as seen here.

This lead me to a few questions:

  1. Behind the klaf was a cloth which went the length of the sefer from Bereishit to the end (or so I assume, seeing as it wrapped around the wound parchment and disappeared behind it). What is the purpose of this cloth?

  2. Where is the form of Torah vestments mentioned in Sephardi Halacha and why are the ones like these only used in a few kehillot?

  3. I have seen paintings by German Jewish artists such as Oppenheim showing similar vestments for Ashkenazi sefarim. Why do Eastern Ashkenazim and Eastern Sephardim not use them (eg. using a mantel or tik instead)?

  • From what you describe #1 sounds like a wimple. Was it similar? – DanF Sep 2 '15 at 19:07
  • @DanF, it certainly wasn't a wimpel. A wimpel serves the same purpose as a gartel, whereas this ran along the back of the whole sefer, as far as I could gather. They had a wimpel too, but it was a different piece. – Noach MiFrankfurt Sep 2 '15 at 19:09
  • Perhaps this cloth was simply for stability of the parchment? I'm assuming that the parchment is standing upright and the Torah is inside a case, right? Maybe having the cloth in the back of the parchment prevents the parchment from flopping over, or moreso, since both side of the scroll are wound inside a case, perhaps the cloth prevents the parchment from rubbing inside the case as it is wound? – DanF Sep 2 '15 at 19:15
  • @DanF, it is not in a case. It's like an Ashkenazi Torah in that sense. – Noach MiFrankfurt Sep 2 '15 at 19:19
  • I've seen this cloth on Sefardi Sifrei Torah - many decades ago. For some reason I have in mind that it's not all that long and is moved weekly - but I no longer recall why I know/think that. – Danny Schoemann Sep 3 '15 at 13:02

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