Jews, Christians, and the Book
MICHAEL A. SIGNER
In their weekly Sabbath services, Jewish congregations hold a procession with the scroll of the Sefer Torah. Members of the congregation surge forward into the aisles of the synagogue to touch it. The scroll is carried to a lectern in the midst of the congregation where members of the community are given the "honor" of reciting blessings and reading from the scroll itself. In many synagogues, the rabbi or a member of the community offers a Devar Torah, a "word of Torah" that applies the weekly portion to the lives of those who have assembled to pray. This outpouring of attention and affection is a concrete demonstration of the centrality of Torah in Jewish life.
Although many Jews are not aware of it, there is a similar demonstration of honor and affection for Scripture in Christian worship. In Catholic and Orthodox churches, there is often a procession where the book of the Gospel is carried forward and placed on the altar. When the Scripture is read, the congregation rises. After the weekly