This Torah scroll has a colorful past. Written in the last years of the 17th century in Eastern Europe, it was hidden away in Prague during the Holocaust as one of 1500 Torah scrolls, where it remained until being discovered in the 1960s. In the late 1970s, when these scrolls were made available to congregations around the world, Temple Ahavat Shalom’s Rabbi Solomon Kleinman and Esther and the late Harvey Saritzky decided that their congregation should have one, but not just any one;
Esther went to London to retrieve a scroll with one instruction:
Over the years the Torah has fallen into a state of disrepair, so this year Rabbi Lutz and the congregation are restoring the Torah. “We owe it to the people of Kolin,” he says, “to 300 years of men and women, boys and girls, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers who cherished this Torah.”
“We are going to make this Torah, once more, as it was intended to be,” said Rabbi Lutz. “A living, vibrant part of a Jewish community.” Each and every member of the community has the chance to write a letter in the Torah, aided by a Torah scribe working with the same tools and dedication as the one who wrote the Torah more than three centuries ago.
When the congregation says “everyone”
This summer, when the restoration is completed, the congregation will take a special trip to Kolin, where it was written. “We will bear witness for the people of Kolin that the Germans didn’t win, that we still exist,” announced Rabbi Lutz at Rosh Hashanah services in mid-September, “and that this Torah will be a living part of our community for many more generations to come.