Meet Museum of the Bible’s Master Scribe, Rabbi Eliezer Eitan Adam

Rabbi Eliezer Eitan Adam joined Museum of the Bible in October 2017 as the Master Scribe. In this interactive role, he engages with guests as he works to creates a Torah scroll. Guests can ask Rabbi Adam questions about the process and the ancient guidelines scribes must follow when creating a Torah scroll. Even today, all Torah scrolls throughout the world are crafted by master scribes.

The function of scribe can be traced back thousands of years through the history of ancient Israel and Judaism. Some scribes were scholars and teachers who interpreted the law. Scribes helped establish rabbinic Judaism, establishing schools and teaching the Torah to the Jewish people. Later, the term scribe identified one who copied Torah scrolls, following the rules described in the Talmud, a compilation of Jewish law.

Born in New York and spending his childhood years in Miami, Rabbi Adam moved with his family to Israel in 1972. "I was 12, and my family had recently moved to Israel. I was watching a scribe write and asked if he would teach me; fortunately, he said ‘yes,’" remembers Rabbi Adam. "But it takes years to become a master scribe. First a student learns the techniques from a scribe and writes an ‘entry level’ Megillat Ester (the scroll of Esther) once or twice. Then he may progress to the mezuzah, a piece of parchment affixed to the door frames of Jewish households containing scriptures from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 and marked with the word "Shaddai." The student will write the mezuzah a few hundred times, and then move up in his training from there. "This can take up to five years," explains Rabbi Adam, "but the learning and improving continue for a lifetime."

A Torah scribe for over 40 years, Rabbi Adam has trained over 3,000 scribes worldwide using a revolutionary learning system he developed for this purpose. His book on the subject, Yalkut Stam, has been printed seven times.

Rabbi Adam served in the Israeli Defense Force as a combat medic in the Golani Brigade. He then spent several years in Yeshiva and became an ordained rabbi in 1987. For eight years, he ran a club for young boys in Israel, teaching fieldcraft and life skills. Additionally, Rabbi Adam serves as a family lawyer, specializing in helping women leave abusive marriages.