Ethical Parchment

Ethically Sourced Parchment: Helping Congregations and Individuals to Live Their Values

To buy ethically sourced parchment, please contact Shoshana Gugenheim.

A single standard sized Torah scroll is written on the skins of 62 fetal cows.   The animals are not killed for the skins, rather they are a by-product of factory farming where 2% of the animals brought to slaughter each day are pregnant.  These fetus skins are used by Israel-based parchment makers to produce 2000 sheets of parchment a month (that’s one operation) for the writing of sacred texts. What this means is that your Torah scroll or mezzuzah or tefillin are mostly written on the “backs”, literally, of animals raised in conditions one would rather not think about:  often standing shoulder high in their own feces, crowded and fed substandard diets with fillers, pumped with antibiotics and slaughtered in ways that many would deem inhumane.  The par between the way in which the skins were sourced and the kedusha (the sanctity) of the writing raises concerns and questions about the public’s role in discussing and addressing this issue.

To that end, I have partnered with these same parchment makers, highly skilled craftspeople, and schochetim (ritual slaughterers) who are providing shechitot (kosher slaughters) for backyard and free range animals, generally goat and sheep, around Israel. These are what I call “ethically sourced parchment”, now available to the public for use with new commissions.  

To read more about the current parchment making industry and solutions please visit Ethically Sourced Parchment at  

Rabbi Linda Motzkin with parchment