Yitzchok Reisman was born in NY to Chassidic East European parents and spent most of his life in the New York area. As a young student, Yitzchok learned in the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn under the great Rabbi Kalmenovitz. From an early age, Yitzchok was attracted to study the fine art of Jewish Writing. While at the Yeshiva, he studied the laws and practicalities of safrut (scribal writings) from Rabbi Chaim Brandshtader who came from Shanghai (The entire mir Yeshiva escaped from Mir to Shanghai from the Nazis). In his formative years as a “Sofer Stam”, Yitzchok had the opportunity to learn this special skill from the previous generation of Scribes who came from Europe before the destruction caused by the Holocaust, when almost all of the Polish Scribes were murdered.
Over his 45 years as a Sofer, Yitzchok has taught many students the art of a Sofer. He has experience in directing Torah writing projects Torah education programs. He has been involved in many restoration projects of antique Torah scrolls all over the USA. He deals with individuals and synagogues in both wholesale and retail sales of Torah scrolls, Tefillin, Mezuzot, and Megillot.
Aside from Yitzchok’s extraordinary knowledge of general scribal work relating to the writing of Torah scrolls, Tefillin, Mezuzot, and Megillot he is also a recognized expert in his knowledge of antique Jewish writing and the history scribal writings. Yitzchok can actually replicate the exact work other scribes did centuries ago. He is probably one of the only Sofrim in the world who can write many different types of script that were used in various countries over different time periods. He uses his specialty for special restoration projects he his involved in.
Yitzchok also prepares various types of ink from different antique recipes to be able to faithfully reproduce the work of the old scribes. He has a broad knowledge of the different types of parchments and has developed innovative techniques of restoring old manuscripts and Torah scrolls.
From an early age, Yitzchok has traveled the world to study everything there is to learn about Jewish manuscripts. He went to Egypt in the 1960’s when there was still a sizeable Jewish community there and traveled around the country to meet community leaders and get their permission to analyze and study the ancient Torah scrolls and other Jewish manuscripts. He has traveled, as well, to Eastern Europe, Spain, Italy, North African countries such as Morocco, and many other places worldwide. In addition, he has a broad knowledge of antique Spanish and near eastern scripts.
As a result of his great experience and incredibly broad knowledge, Yitzchok is today known to be one of or the most knowledgeable Sofrim in the field of ancient Jewish writing. Just by looking at the script he can, in most cases, both accurately date it as well as tell from where it came. Over the years, Yitzchok has discovered several very interesting and valuable findings. Approximately 15 years ago, someone brought to him a section of a Torah bought at an auction in London. After quick look, Yitzchok realized that it had been written by a Chinese Sofer, and had once belonged to the Kaifeng synagogue in China in the 17th century. The seam between the parchments had been sewn with silk thread instead of regular animal tendons, and the style of the writing was particularly indicative of the Chinese tradition. These few sections of the Torah scroll are today in the possession of the Bible Society of America. Yitzchok has, as well, dated several valuable manuscripts from the 11th century that were sold at auction for great sums. See Ancient Torah Scroll page
Yitzchok has amassed a very large collection of antique Torah scrolls, Megilot and other Jewish manuscripts. He owns antique Megillot Esther (Scrolls of Esther) from nearly every major old Jewish community in the world.