Tuesday, June 14, 2005

TUID (Torah Unique Identifiers)

This Wired article discusses how, to complicate the trafficking of stolen Torahs, two rival registries have been established.

Historially, it has been the "anonymity" of Torah scrolls that facilitates the fencing of stolen scrolls.

Torah scrolls are inherently anonymous. Jewish law dictates that not one character can be added to the 304,805 letters of the Torah's text. That means no "property of" stamps, no serial numbers, no visible identifying marks of any kind.

Because in the past there has been no way to verify whether or nor a particular Torah is 'hot' (because there has been no way to label it), thieves have had an easy time selling stolen scrolls to unsuspecting congregations.

The two registries, the Universal Torah Registry and the International Torah Registry take different approaches to identifying individual Torahs in a manner that doesn't violate rabbinic law - the first by a unique pattern of pin pricks, the second by an analysis of various distinguishing features (e.g. line spacing etc ).

These TUIDs (Torah Unique Identifiers) are global. Do not Torahs also deserve privacy protection? Seems there would be an opportunity for federated identity management between the two registries.

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