Parchment from ancient sacred text to be given to J'lem institute

The family of man who held a fragment of a more than 1,000-year-old manuscript of the Hebrew Bible for six decades as a good luck charm will present it to a Jerusalem institute next week, officials said Thursday. The parchment, about "the size of a credit card," is believed to be part of the most authoritative manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, the Aleppo Codex, said Michael Glatzer, academic secretary of the Yad Ben Zvi institute. It contains verses from the Book of Exodus describing the plagues in Egypt, including the words of Moses to Pharaoh, "Let my people go, that they may serve me." Sam Sabbagh, then a 17-year old Syrian, picked up a piece of the manuscript off the floor of a synagogue in Aleppo, Syria in 1947. The synagogue had been burned the previous day in riots that followed the decision by the United Nations to partition Palestine, a step to creation of the Jewish state of Israel. Sabbagh, who later immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, carried the parchment around for years in a plastic pouch in his wallet, Glatzer said. He used it as a good luck charm, even bringing it with him when he underwent open heart surgery.