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350 year-old Torah -- restoration finishes this week
As Jews around the world celebrate Shavuot—the holiday that commemorates receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai—Temple Ahavat Shalom is celebrating the completed restoration of a 350 year-old Torah.
“We are going to make this Torah, once more, as it was intended to be,” Rabbi Barry Lutz promised the congregation at the kick-off of the restoration last September. “A living, vibrant part of a Jewish community.” Nine months letter, that vision is nearly complete; the congregation will write the final letters on Sunday, June 12, marking the occasion with a special celebration.
This Torah scroll has a colorful past. It was written in the 17th century in the town of Kolin, in the former Czechoslovakia. The Torah was in use for more than 300 years until it was hidden away in Prague during the Holocaust, where it remained until being discovered in the 1960s.
In 1978, Temple Ahavat Shalom’s Rabbi Solomon Kleinman and Esther and the late Harvey Saritzky decided that their congregation should have one of the Czech memorial scrolls. Esther went to London to retrieve a scroll with one instruction:
TAS student Eden Glaser found the experience of writing in the Torah to be very meaningful. “It’s just writing,” she says, “but it’s powerful writing.”
Restoring a Torah is a complicated process. It has more than 300,000 letters and is written on special parchment with special ink. The restoration is performed with the same tools and methods that have been used to write Torah scrolls for thousands of years.
“This little Torah is not ours, it is theirs—the people of Kolin,” said Rabbi Lutz in his Rosh Hashanah sermon. “We carry it for them. We carry the hopes and dream of a Jewish community that is no more. This is their precious legacy to us. And this is the promise we made to them: to care for their scroll and do all we can to make sure that they are never forgotten.”
Join us at the Torah Restoration Closing Celebration
June 12, 2011 — 6:30 p.m.
Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge, California
Meet the scribe, hear from Rabbi Lutz, and see the final letters restored in the Kolin Torah