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Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
September 21, 1979     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 21, 1979

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Page B-20. HERITAGE, Florida Jewish News, Friday. September 21. 1979 Deathbed Wish of Scribe Brings Torah to Pennsylvania by DAVID C. GROSS Reprinted from The Jewlh WeeAmerican Examiner (New York) Somewhere in inaccessible corners of Europe--in caves, private homes, and other hiding places --there are still this day Scrolls of the Law, Sifrei Torah, that date to the Nazi era. Some holy books and scrolls were spirited away so that they would be safe from Nazi plunder and destruction. Some were carted off by the Ha=is themselves, who planned to organize a museum of Judaica, in which they would display "relics of the dead Jews." In London, there is a cache of hundreds of recovered scrolls, many of them damaged, that were found after the war ended, and that are gradually being repaired and put to use again. When people attend services, and rise in tribute to the Torah when the scrolls are paraded around the synagogue prior to and immediately after the weekly reading of the Torah portion, seldom do they think of the origins or history of each Torah. In many cases, the history of the scrolls found in most American synagogues is probably not terribly dramatic; but that is not true in all cases. There is, for example, a Torah that was sequestered for some four decades in the heart of the Soviet Union, soon after the rise of the Communist regime, and was not putto use for fear it would be destroyed, and which only very recently made its way out of Russia, via a still secret mute, and wound up in a synagogue in Hew York, where it is today used on all suitable occasions. Torah from China There there is the Torah in the southwestern part of the United States that a noted scholar has declared originated in China several hundred years ago, and somehow made its way across the seas to a new, safe haven in America. There is a deeply ingrained awe, respect and love for the Sefer Torah among all Jews, religious or not, knowledgeable or otherwise. It contains after all the F'we Books of Moses, the Pentateuch, the very foundations of Judaism, and was composed by a sofer, a scdbe, who copied it from an older version, letter by painstaking letter, omitting all vowels, all punctuation, and doing so in strict accordance with certain definite rules and regulations. And when a young man or young woman is called to the Torah for a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah, or when a young man is honored at the Torah at the aufrufprior to his wedding, or when a father names his child, or I'haudil, when a memorial prayer is recited at the morning service on the uahrzeit of a beloved parent -- it is always at the Torah, reverently, lovingly, even mystically. All of which leads up to a most unusual story about a particular Sefer Torah that could happen, probably, only in America. Some years ago, a new young couple moved into a small town in Pennsylvania. The husband, a liberal, progressive kind of person, had purchased the town's local weekly, and was gradually transforming it from a rather staid, reactionary publication into an exciting paper with a far more liberal slanL As every small town publisher knows, his biggest advertising accounts are the local merchants, and in that particular town there was a group of a dozen or so Jewish families who owned large and medium size retail stores. The non-Jewish publisher and the Jewish storekeepers became friendly. Once, in a relaxed moment, one of the store- keepers mentioned to the newcomer to the community that the Jews would like to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur properly but they did not have a Sefer Torah. At which point, the young publisher grinned and said: "Your problem is solved -- I'll give you mine." Retailer Scoffed Naturally, the retailer scoffed. Where would this non-Jewish young man have access to a Sefer Torah? Did he even know what it was? The publisher, noticing the reaction of the Jew, smiled, and said he realized that his offer must seem strange, and insisted therefore that they proceed at once to his home, to see the Scroll of the Law. No sooner said than done. When they reached the publisher's home, his wife greeted them. The reason for the visit was explained, and the skepticism of the visitor was understood. The publisher's wife told the retailer, while her husband went to the attic to retrieve the Torah, how it all came about. "1 am Jewish, although my husband is not, as you know. I am a registered nurse and before we came in a hospital in Jewish patient, an old, as 1 learned after a while he religious man. love him for his kind and short time before he bedside, and said: 'Before I to have something, a memento for your taking such good was a Sefer Torah, one that he sorer -- had spent years of he hoped to bring personally "He asked me to name my first4 his name was Baruch. Torah in your little congregation will be able to rest scroll has at last found able to bring my children and point out the Torah that I your synagogue." From the young woman's flowed, but a small smile That Sefer Torah, lovingly devout scribe, handed to a married to a Gentile, country to a small town in today in full use in a whose member: that they love on every suitable occasion. Who knows? Perhaps some' may, in accordance with the scribe, wend its way to Happy Rosh Hashanah/ A Monogram Company Realtors 2020 W. Fairbanks, Winter Park the greatest of world in which and happiness. With the of another we wish you your loved or man's blessings...a to enjoy your health FLAGSHIP BANK of Semi J'i I00ppy Nsh I'[as00S00h AILEEN PEGGY Travel Agency Office Hours are 9.'00 am NO FEES FOI OUI iqLOFT.qSlONAI"