Army brings the first ever Torah Scroll to Afghanistan, tells the world

This is coming from the Army’s website of pre-packaged videos for the media to pick up.

www.dvidshub.net/video/embed/137199

It’s all well and good to be respectful of fallen soldiers, and to embrace diversity among the religious preferences. But to brag about the fact that you brought the first Torah Scroll into a Muslim nation? Probably not a good idea.

This is one time that I hope they just remove the video, before some Islamic fundamentalists get a hold of it. Usually, I’d suggest they ‘keep the evidence’ etc. But this time… yikes! Please take this shit down!

Also, it’s probably a bit offensive to practicing Jews too when they mis-spelled Torah a few times. (‘Torrah’ appears in the description, and on the website). This document is actually kind of cool. I’d like to see the Army prominently display it in a more appropriate location. Or perhaps, donate it to a museum, or Jewish veteran’s group.

Torah Scroll in Afghanistan

This probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but how could they greenlight a story about it? Let’s pick our battles folks. This short video could cause actually cause some battles, or damage international relations.

About Justin Griffith
  • Ski

    So because it’s a Muslim country we can’t have Jewish artifacts there? Maybe we should ban Jewish worship on coalition bases, too? And no, as a practicing Jew it’s not offensive to me that they misspelled ‘Torah’. It’s a transliterated word, like Hannukah (Channukah? Chanuka?), so I don’t begrudge them that. This, unlike your response, was done without any mean-spiritedness.

  • Chuck C

    My understanding is that the Torah is a part of the Muslim body of religious texts: they just don’t revere it on the same level as the Q’ran, believing it’s content to have been corrupted by translation. I can’t see them getting all that excited. By the same token, I highly doubt that this is the first Torah to enter Afghanistan: even if the Taliban hunted down and destroyed all copies during their reign, there had to have been copies prior to the Soviet occupation. In university libraries, if nothing else.

  • Paul Weaver

    Given the long historical record of Jews in Afghanistan, I seriously doubt that this is the first Torah to enter the geographical country.

    Maybe the first in recent years … but even that would require some pretty precise language for the claim to be valid.

    http://www.bh.org.il/database-article.aspx?48204

  • Justin Griffith

    @ski #1

    from the article

    “This document is actually kind of cool. I’d like to see the Army prominently display it in a more appropriate location. Or perhaps, donate it to a museum, or Jewish veteran’s group.”

    What part of my article was mean spirited? I love the military, I love my fellow soldiers (obviously including my religious battle buddies). I’m genuinely worried about kicking up an anthill – perhaps losing some of my friends in the process.

    My issue has nothing to do with the Torah itself. Especially not one as intricate and beautiful as that copy. However, I do have an issue with the US Army packaging a video into a press release for mass-media consumption BRAGGING about it being the first in the country. That’s crazy – bragging about it… poking a snake, kicking an anthill… It’s indefensible.

    • katebates

      So concerned about the feelings of the Jews, yet describe objections of Muslims to occupiers bringing in Jewish religious as “snakes” or “ant hills”?

      Shame on your bigoted arrogance.

  • Ski

    @Justin, the part of your article where you take it upon yourself to assume offense on the part of practicing Jews is what I’d call disingenuous and mean-spirited. The part where you assert that the Torah shouldn’t be in Afghanistan at all, for whatever reason, is…well…uninformed, I guess.

    I know when I spent time there I thoroughly enjoyed my Friday night services and having a real Torah on special occasions was awesome. Let’s face it; the people that hate Jews or the West or whatever will hate it with or without this kind of thing. They get plenty of propaganda value out of videos of Americans urinating on dead bodies.

    As for packaging this for media consumption, that comes with having a military that’s all-volunteer. It’s a recruiting tool, just like Top Gun and Act of Valor and every other movie filmed using taxpayer-funded equipment. You want a military whose press office doesn’t have to pander to the media? Tell your Congressman you want universal conscription.

    Great site overall and keep doing the right thing by fighting the small-minded and the bigots, but take the high road when you do it, will ya?

  • Dan

    Ski, you seriously think more people will enlist because the Army is claiming it has the first ‘Torrah’ in Afghanistan? OK.

  • http://www.cognoramus.com Ski

    @Dan, I seriously think more practicing Jews will enlist in the Army if they see it as an organization friendly to their beliefs and practices, yeah. Is that really a hard concept to grasp?

  • procrastinator will get an avatar real soon now

    I would hope that the Army would be totally agnostic as to your or any other religion. It’s none of their business or concern.

  • Dan

    @Ski, Yes it is hard to believe that this was done for recruiting. I’ve known hundreds, probably thousands, of people in the military from many religious backgrounds (I was a military brat and am in the Air Guard), and I’ve never met anyone who would enlist for reasons like the Army owning a ‘Torrah.’ I do think that the military owning a religious book would be an incredibly stupid reason for any individual to join the Armed Forces.I wouldn’t have been any more or less likely to enlist if the military had owned a first edition of The Origin of Species.

  • crowepps

    Is this the same Afghanistan in which the thousand year old Jewish manuscripts surfaced? I have no opinion about how wise it is for a military which claims it’s not invading to brag about ‘importing’ Judaism into the country ‘for the first time’, although I would note there’s nothing that sounds more like ‘we came to conquer’ than bragging about importing your God into the country, but IMO the brag is historically and factually inaccurate.

    “For the first time we have concrete evidence of Jewish existence (in Afghanistan), not only in the material sense of tombstones or household artifacts, but documents that (tell us) about the spiritual world of the people who lived there 1,000 years ago,” says Haggai Ben-Shammai, academic director of the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem.

    http://www.thestar.com/article/1115485–medieval-jewish-manuscripts-discovered-in-afghanistan-include-an-unknown-work-by-saadia-gaon

    In addition, I believe Zablon Simintov still lives in Kabul, and still has his cupboard full of Torahs.

    http://afghanistan.blogs.cnn.com/2010/05/10/afghanistans-last-jew-vows-to-stay-put/

    • http://ROCKBEYONDBELIEF SEARCH LIGHT

      FACTS ARE FACTS THE REAL JEWS WERE WIPED OUT BY ROME, THE ONES YOU FIND OUTSIDE OF PALESTINE AND SUROUNDING NATIONS, BEFORE THE ZIONIST (NON JEWS) INVADED PALESTINE) ARE A MIX OF MONGOLIAN BLOOD MIX WITH EASTERN EUROPEANS, SO THEY ARE NOT JEWS EXCEPT BY CONVERSSION, BUT HAVE NOT EVEN A DROP OF ABRAHAMIC BLOOD IN THEM THAT IS WHY THEY CALL THEMSELVES SEPHARDIC FROM SPAIN AND ASHKENAZI, FROM EASTERN EUROPE,ASHKENAZ WAS A NOAH’S GRAND SON BORN OF HIS SON JAPETH, THOSE ARE THE THE FATHERS OF EUROPEAN NATIONS, HAM IS THE FATHER OF ALL THE MUSLIM NATIONS, INCLUDING AFRICAN PEOPLE, AND SHEM THE THIRD SON OF NOAH IS WHERE THE REAL JEWS DECENDED, SO EVEN THE ONES THAT CALL THEMSELVES JEWS KNOW THAT THEY ARE ASHKENAZI IMPOSTOR JEWS THEIR FIRST KING BY THE NAME OF BULAN TOOK A GOOD PORTION OF THE ASHKENAZI’S TO SPAIN WITH HIM THAT IS WHY THE DIFFERENCE IN IDENTIFICATION NAMES, BUT THEY ARE ALL THE SAME IMPOSTOAR JEWS, THEIR KIGDOM IN EASTERN EUROPE WAS LOCATED NORTH OF THE BLACK SEA, SOUTH WEST OF RUSSIA, THOSE ARE THE ONES THE BIBLE MENTIONS THAT WILL COME AGAINST ISRAEL AND POSSES IT THAT WAS DONE IN 1948, THAT IS WHY JESUS IS READY TO COME BACK TO GET RID OF THOSE CRIMINALS AND ESTABLISH HIS KINGDOM FOR 1.000 YEARS, BY THEN ALL ZIONIST JEWS WILL BE DESTROYED, THAT GOD HIMSELF WILL FIRE BACK AT THEM FROM THE HEAVENS, CHRISTIANS ARE STILL WAITTING FOR THE GOG AND MAGOGS OF THIS WORLD TO SHOW THEIR FACES, AND ARE MISSING EVERYTHING FOR NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO GOD’S WORD THOSE CRIMINALS SITTING IN ISRAEL ARE GOG AND MAGOG AND ALL ITS BANDS, SINCE THOSE IMPOSTOR JEWS CAME FROM WHAT WE NOW KNOW THE NATIONS MENTION IN THE BIBLE, AS THE ENEMYS OF GOD AND ENEMYS OF THE REAL JEWS. SINCE THE REAL JEWS IN ISRAEL ARE TREATED AS SLAVES.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rockbeyondbelief/ Justin Griffith

        What are you? This is a new type of idiot for me. Only allowed this guy out of moderation for an example of how NOT to post, and for the natural rubber-necking I assume readers might enjoy.

  • Steve

    I doubt it’s the first. There used to be some Jews in Kabul decades ago. The country was quite open and modern in the 50s and 60s.

    I think I saw some report once that one or two of them are still there

  • http://thouwinterwind.wordpress.com Winterwind

    Like other a few other commenters, my first reaction was, “First Torah EVER in Afghanistan? Even if ‘ever’ means ‘in the past fifty years’, that’s just embarrassing.” Some military PR person would have to be pretty ignorant of Afghani/Central Asian history to make a claim like that.

    Oh, wait, I get it now. They mean “the first Torah brought to Afghanistan by AMERICANS, who are the only real people.” The fact that Jews and Muslims have kept Hebrew manuscripts in Central Asia for millenia doesn’t count, because they’re not AMERICANS, i.e. real human beings.

  • Anat

    Afghanistan is also where Balkh is located, home to Hiwi al-Balkhi, a 9th century Jewish skeptic.

  • Kimz

    So, while I’m going to defer to Justin’s judgement that the video shouldn’t have been made because it could be used by fundis in the region to foment violence against the base, I think that the rest of the criticism is a little off base

    1) As Ski pointed out, the ‘misspelling’ of the transliteration of the word תורה is no more offensive than the many and varied ways that North American Jews spell any number of other words transliterated from the Hebrew. Hell, if they’d wanted too, the could have called it a ‘Tawrat’ (arabic word for it) and I suspect it would have only ruffle a few feathers.

    2) Putting a still-usable Torah in a museum seems like a terrible waste. Maybe once starts deteriorating, but until then it should be used, that’s part of the tradition. It’s not like it’s an ancient relic. There are new Torahs made all the time (it’s what keeps the scribes in business — I can’t imagine choosing that as a career, but to each his own). It was made to be taken out every day and read from, and hiding it under glass would be terrible.

    3) If there are more than 10 Jewish soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, then unless there’s a strong reason not to (like Jewish paraphernalia are so offensive to the local culture that the need to be kept out of the region in it’s entirety — although in that case deploying Jewish soldiers might be even more of a risk) then bringing a Torah onto the base simply lets those soldiers practice. The Jewish Sabbath service revolves around reading from the Torah. So, if I heard the video right, this is the first Torah on base (certainly not in the region, that would be factually inaccurate) which means that, for the first time since deployed, those soldiers can have a proper service according to Jewish traditions.

    Of course as the saying goes, 2 Jews three opinions, there’s totally room for disagreement. I suspect, though, that for the Jewish soldiers on the base, the arrival of a Torah was a good thing.

    As to if the video should have been made or not? I’m going to defer to Justin as he is the one with deployment experience.

  • Priscilla Parker

    The issue here is not that a “Torah” was brought to Afghanistan. It’s that it is a scroll. The scroll was written in commemoration of two fallen Marines who died in Iraq, not Afghanistan. The reason it was not sent to Iraq is because we are no longer present there. Justin is absolutely correct in suggesting that this was an error on the part of the military in having it sent to Afghanistan because it has no relevance there. Service members can carry a Torah with them and a prayer book but why send this scroll there? The Marines it was written for did not die. Why not donate it to their synagogue or place it in a museum in their honor?

  • Priscilla Parker

    *did not die in Afghanistan.

  • Mriana

    I’m really not sure what the problem is. So it’s the first Torah in the country in many years. Not sure why that should be a problem or even insulting, esp since they are not imposing it on the Islamic community there. Then again, some Islamists can be really insane, but as far as I can tell, I’m not sure what is offensive about it, not even the misspelling of the word Torah, which might only warrant a “Hey, you misspelled Torah. Can you please fix that. Thanks.” It seems to me, although I’m a humanist and not religious, it was done in good taste, without meaning any insults or harm to anyone.

  • Jeremy

    @Dan, of course this is a promotional/recruitment, not just for practicing Jews, but for those who like indications that we respect our soldiers and all belief systems.

    Will it make anyone enlist? Well, the news of atheist chaplains was important to me as it showed respect for my beliefs.

  • http://www.pcdoctor.bg/ Britney Friddle

    Can I just say what a relief to find somebody who really knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know easy methods to carry a problem to light and make it important. Extra folks have to learn this and understand this aspect of the story. I cant consider youre not more fashionable because you definitely have the gift.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sigo.555 Yitzhak Ellis

    THis article is grossly inaccurate. The Torah scrolls have been in Afghanistan since the occupation in 2001. How do I know? Because I was a Jewish lay leader at Kandahar 2002-2003 and every chaplain and lay leader kit comes with a Torah. Whoever orchestrated this DVIDS video was fabricating a grand publicity stunt. And at the time this article was written, there were two Torah scrolls already at Bagram airfield, full sized, courtesy of the Jewish War Veterans’ group in Washington DC.

    • Justin Griffith

      I believe you. I now know how a PAO shop works, and how easy it is to hang something on DVIDS. Thank you for clarifying, despite this post being old as hell. If it comes up again, I’ll refer to JWV and your commentary.

  • owainglyndwr1416

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4257174,00.html

    I doubt the Torah will suffer the same fate .. Not so tolerant ?

  • noz

    What in the hell is the army is doing, usa military job is to stop killing, since when usa military job is delivering, stupid religious symbols.

  • pj

    To put this in perspective, Christian missionaries distributing New Testaments in Israel were spit on and punched by Jews. A member of Knesset publicly burned The Book.

    As in all things, Jews hold others to a standard of tolerance they are Biblically impaired from conforming to themselves.

  • Fahmi Salam

    Hehe, amusing that no one seems to know that the Torah is considered a to be a holy scripture in Islam (albeit one that has been altered by the pens of men). Desecrating a torah would be very sinful in Islam because it is believed to still contain many words of God. Torah’s in Afghanistan would be a complete non-issue.

    Perhaps if the Zionist wars were aimed at Hindu’s, Christians or Buddhists we might know such general trivia. But alas its against Islam and so such general trivia will always remain obscure in favor of the mechanized hate mongering leviathan that starts in Tel-Aviv and ends on the fox-news types of the world.

  • http://ROCKBEYONDBELIEF SEARCH LIGHT

    WHAT IS THE BIF DEAL ? WITH ALL THOSE THAT COMENT THE PRECENCE OF THE TORAH, IN AFKANISTAN, THE TORAH IS ONLY A VERY SMALL PART OF THE OLD TESTAMENT (CONTRACT) GOD HAD WITH THE ORIGINAL JEWS. ONLY 5 BOOKS OF THE 66 BOOKS WRITTEN.

    I WOULD BE MORE TRILLED IF WHAT THOSE HYPOCRITS WERE CARRYING WERE THE NEW TESTAMENT (NEW CONTRACT) GOD MADE WITH HUMANITY AS A WHOLE, NO LONGER JUST THE JEWS.

    SO THEY WANT TO CONTINUE SHOWING THEIR IGNORANCE AND REBELIN AGAISNT THE MOST HIGH, THAT IS THEIR FAULT, BECAUSE GOD WILL NOT SPEAK TO THE JEWS OR GENTILES UNLES THEY GO THROUGH HIS FIRST PERFECT BORN SON, JESUS CHRIST. UNLESS A MAN REPENTS, OF ALL ITS SINS, AND ASK FOR FORGIVNESS, REQUESTING THE FATHER TO FILLED THEM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST PUBLIC RITUALS, THAT WON’T SAVE THEM FROM GOING TO HELL.

    JOHN 8:44-47 READS YE JEWS ARE OF THE DEVIL, YOU ARE NOT MY SHEEP AND YOU ARE NOT OF GOD.


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