Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saving an Holocaust Torah Scroll - Part I

There's has been a lot of press surrounding the veracity of a few Holocaust Torah Scrolls sold by a Maryland Rabbi, and being that I'm not here to judge anyone, all I can say is that this story highlights the special importance of Holocaust scrolls and how many people are willing to pay top money for these special scrolls.

Well, I myself am dealing with a Holocaust scroll which is housed in an European library since World War 2. The library tells me that after the Nazi occupation, a Jewish man came to the library and asked them to protect the Torah Scroll he had in his possession. I guess he felt that people who preserve books would understand the importance of the scroll and keep it from being destructed. And so it was. They kept the scroll and took great care of it since 1941, and in one way or another they contacted me because they wanted to know more about its history.

So I went there with one of my Safrut teachers to take a look at this unique Torah. First, the librarian takes us to a tour and tells us that they actually have many Jewish books with them but can't organize them as they are all in Hebrew. "These books are part of city's heritage and we would love to involve the Jewish residents in this and work together towards organizing all what we have".

We finally enter the room to see the Sefer Torah. We see the scroll is on top of the desk, wrapped in a special green carton paper ("to prevent corrosion") and sealed. It was a very emotional sight as it literary felt like visiting a long forsaken prisoner, albeit one that was kept well.

We were expecting a low quality Torah, with broken Yeriot and inferior Ktav. But as we unwrap the carton, it becomes evident that this is a top-quality Torah. It was missing the last 5 parshiot of Devarim and the Ktav was immaculate - really nice Polish style Torah. I took pictures but to my despair I can't find them and share it with you.
Now I'm trying to somehow save this Torah and bring it back to where it belongs - to a Shul, in the Bima, being read by the Baal Koreh on Shabbos. But for now, that is just a dream. Chazal say that a person who fixes a pasul Sefer Torah is Mekaiem the Mizva of Kitvu Lachem. But even if I somehow miracoulosly turn out to be the Sofer fixing this Torah, this is so much more than personal gain. It's about changing history and correcting a very big mistake!