Torah Mantle (Covers)

To safely store Torah scrolls, they are carefully packed away. This is done using a Torah Mantle (or Cover), which is placed over the body of the scrolls whilst leaving two holes for the rollers on which the Torah is rolled. This Me’il is usually made from precious cloth and decorated with embroidery. Some of the most common decorations include crowns for the kingdom of God, Hebrew inscriptions, and pairs of lions (lions being the symbol of the Tribe of Judah, from which the word Jew is derived).

Title: Me’il (Torah Mantle)
Date: 18th/19thcentury
Material: stitched silk, imprinted linen linings
Dimensions: 88 x 90 cm (29.5’’ x 17’’)
Creator: unknown
Sponsor: unknown

This Me’il is one of the most elaborately crafted textiles of the Genizah in Niederzissen. The silk weave is decorated in its entirety with silvery-golden flower tendrils stitched using Jaquard-technique. The top and bottom finishes of the mantle, as well as the holes for the rollers, are hemmed with a silk ribbon. Central elements of the decoration are a three-pronged crown made from silk ribbon and the Hebrew letters Kaf and Taf made from silver braid. The two letters abbreviate the Hebrew words Keter Torah – crown of the Torah. All decorations symbolize the significance of the Holy Scripture, given to mankind by God, the king of the world.

The Me’il was sewn together from at least eight separate parts, suggesting that precious fabric remnants were used to produce it, possibly from a wedding dress. Even the lining was made using a valuable linen cloth with a blossoms pattern. The Torah Mantle is one of the best-preserved textiles in the Genizah.

Further Reading:
Wiesner, Linda. “Der Textilfund”. Zeugnisse Jüdischen Lebens In Niederzissen. Genisa-Funde In Der Ehemaligen Synagoge, Falk Wiesemann, Kultur- Und Heimatverein Niederzissen, Niederzissen, 2012.