Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. While we did not get the actual Torah scroll until many years later, the nucleus of the Torah's wisdom was given to us on this holiday. Appropriately, we have chosen eight special Torah scrolls from across the Jewish world as a tribute to the document that binds us to each other and to G‑d. These scrolls, chosen for their unique history or appearance, are as diverse as the Jewish people they represent.

1. Slavita Sefer Torah

This scroll belonged to the Schapiro brothers, chassidic printers in the town of Slavita. They were falsely accused of murder and arrested by the czarist police in 1839. After being forced to run the gauntlet, they were held first in prison and later under house arrest for 17 years. While they were detained, this was the Torah they used. The Lubavitcher Rebbe (pictured above) treasured this Torah, which he received in 1954.

2. The world’s oldest complete Sefer Torah

This 800-year-old lambskin Torah was preserved in a library in Bologna, Italy, where it was mistakenly believed to be of much newer vintage. Its true age was discovered only in the spring of 2013.

Image source: Huffington Post

3. The Torah that went from the camps to the stars

This pocket-sized Torah was used for a secret bar mitzvah at the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen during the Holocaust. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, took it with him into space, aboard the Columbia in 2003. Tragically, the Torah was lost along with Ramon and his six crewmembers when the space shuttle broke apart as it returned to earth’s atmosphere on February 1, 2003.

Image source: Jewish Journal

4. Mizrachi-style Torahs in upright cases

Unlike the more common European practice of draping the Torah in cloth, Asian Jews traditionally house their Torahs in ornate cylindrical cases. This particular Torah was dedicated to the welfare of all missing or kidnapped IDF soldiers. Noam Shalit, the father of then-kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, is pictured holding the the Torah during its dedication.

Image source: Flickr

5. Children’s Torah

In 1981 the Rebbe called for “the writing of a special Torah scroll for all Jewish boys and girls below bar/bat mitzvah.” Each child was to purchase an individual letter in the scroll with his or her own money.

The Rebbe set a number of requirements for this special Torah and those to follow: He fixed the price of a letter in the Torah scroll as one dollar, or its equivalent value in local currency. The Rebbe also asked for it to be written in Jerusalem, signifying the unity of the Jewish people. Though normally writing a Torah scroll takes close to a year, this scroll was completed in just over five months. To date, some two million children have purchased letters in five scrolls, and the campaign continues.

6. Aleppo Codex

Though not a Torah scroll itself, the Aleppo Codex—penned by the mysterious Ben-Asher in the 10th century CE—has been treasured as an authoritative guide for scribes. Over the years it has been been used by Maimonides, stolen by crusaders, held for ransom and saved from riots. Today the scroll, missing some sections, is kept in Israel.

Image source: Wikipedia

7. Torah scrolls of the Sephardic (Spanish) Diaspora

These scrolls, decorated with elaborate rimonim (lit., pomegranates) on top, belong to a synagogue in Casablanca, Morocco.

Image source: Flickr

8. Moshiach’s Sefer Torah

In 1942, as the Holocaust raged in Europe, the Previous Rebbe initiated the campaign to write a Torah with which to greet Moshiach. It was finished by his successor, the Rebbe, in 1970. Not wanting to be the only one to have the merit of its writing, the Previous Rebbe opened participation in its funding to Jews around the world, creating a truly unified scroll.