A squadron of Israeli soldiers ascended the Roman-era mountaintop fortress of Masada in the Negev Desert last week to add their contribution to a historic Torah scroll being written at the site’s ancient synagogue.

Taking place just a day before the onset of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot – which commemorates the giving of the Torah more than millennia ago – the visit was arranged by Rabbi Shimon Elharar, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Dead Sea. Each soldier got a chance to write a letter in the holy scroll with the assistance of ritual scribe Rabbi Shai Abramovich.

Expected to be completed in time for Chanukah, the scroll is believed to be the first holy book written exclusively at Masada in more than 2,000 years.