Photo: Rabbi Dalia and her daughters with TBS’ first Torah scroll from 1985, “Shema” text
On Thursday, March 16th, Temple Beth Solomon’s first Torah scroll boarded El Al Airlines and headed to Jerusalem in the trusted safekeeping of Rabbi Karen Strok, a colleague of TBS’ Rabbi Dalia Samansky.
This is the culmination of a six month project by the TBS Board of Directors to find a new home for this Torah.
It was acquired for TBS by Rabbi, Alan Henkin and Rabbi Erwin Herman (zl) who was instrumental in locating it from the Westminster Synagogue’s Memorial Trust in London. It is believed that the Torah originated in Czechoslovakia.
The Torah was donated in 1985 to TBS by Rose Snyder (of blessed memory), the matriarch of the Brandt Family. It was received with immense joy by our congregation and we have been honored to be its caretaker for the past 32 years. However, after acquiring a second Torah in 1995, we only used this Torah at the High Holy Days.
This very special scroll was one of about 1600 Torahs miraculously rescued by the Soviets from the chaos of the Holocaust. Rabbinic scholars estimated it to be about 500 years old. If it could talk, imagine the amazing story of Jewish life if would tell!
Beginning with the scribe who created it 500 years ago, its travels have taken it from Czechoslovakia to unknown places in Europe, then to London, and finally to the U.S., arriving in 1985 at our synagogue in Arleta, California.
Now TBS has the extraordinary honor to complete the circle as we send the Torah back to its birthplace. It is being delivered from Los Angeles to Israel, and then in May to its final destination–Sheket, a Deaf congregation 6000 miles away in the city of Minsk in the Republic of Belarus, part of the Commonwealth of Independent States. We are extremely grateful that this Torah will continue its tradition of inspiring Jews, and especially excited that it will empower Deaf Jews in their quest for inclusion in Jewish life.
This May, the Union for Progressive Judaism, (the international umbrella organization for Reform and Progressive Judaism) will hold their annual convention in Jerusalem. There they will hold a special ceremony to officially transfer the Torah from TBS to Sheket. This act will forever link us to our Deaf, sister synagogue on the other side of the world.
Thanks to Rabbi Dalia, Shimrit Levy and the World Union of Progressive Judaism for their assistance in this project.
Source: Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf