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September 27, 2002 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-09-27

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On Simchat Torah, we march
with our Sifrei Torah, which collectively
come from a multitude of origins
but carry the same message.

brate his 1999 marriage to his wife, Francee. At the time.
s Detroit Jews celebrate the
of the dedication, Rabbi Dannel Schwartz described how
holiday of Simchat Torah,
Ford attended a Jewish studies class at the synagogue and
we open synagogue arks to
"fell in love with where our Sifrei Torah came from, each
reveal Sifrei Torah that have
with its own special history, each froth a different place."
arrived at their homes
Ford's search for the gift ended when he located a
through countless avenues.
scroll in Israel, for which he had a silver cask
The Sifrei Torah we dance
long before the Torah made its way to
with on Simchat Torah,
defined as "Joy of the Torah," Shir Shalom, the scroll had spent more than 150
years in hiding. In the 1970s, it was discovered in a
come with a multitude of
bakery wall in either Portugal or Spain, in a building
histories and backgrounds.
They may have very specific personas on the outside — that once might have been a private home. A Judaica
expert in Israel authenticated the Torah as being a
like-the green-and-white casing that covers the Torah at
Sephardic Torah, written according to the writing
the Lester J. Morris Hillel Jewish Student Center at
style of the 1400s. In 1999, Rabbi Schwartz said it
Michigan State University in East Lansing — but the
was important that the Torah be read once a year,
message they share inside is exactly the same.
Every 304,805-letter Sefer Torah holds the same lesson. and proposed Simchat Torah as the time.
The word "Torah" means "a teaching." The Torah holds
God's teaching to the Jewish people, and teaches us how
Memorial Sifi-ez Torah
to teach each other. It includes the mitzvot, which are
At area synagogues, including Congregation Beth .
God's instructions to us and contains stories about our
Shalom and Temple Emanu-El, some Sifrei Torah
history, our relationship with God and about life.
share a special history.
Although Simchat Torah, beginning this year on
These Sifrei Torah were rescued by the Czech
Saturday night, Sept. 28, is celebrated with dancing
Memorial Scroll Centre in London. During the
and singing, its primary focus is on the completion
German invasion of Czechoslovakia during World
of the annual cycle of reading the words of the Torah. War II, ritual items — including more than 1,500
Immediately after the end of the Torah is read, we
Torah scrolls — were seized from the country's syna-
start over, reading the first words.
. gogues. The Nazi plan had been to, build a "Central
"We celebrate the fact that we have completed the
Museum of Extinct Jewish Race" in Prague.
communal study of the Torah again this year," says
After collecting and tagging the Sifrei Torah, the scrolls
Rabbi Reuven Spolter of Young Israel of Oak Park. "At were dumped in a pile on the floor of Prague's main syn-
the same time, it reminds us that a Jew's obligation to
agogue, awaiting the end of the war and the construction
grow educationally and spiritually never really ends,
of the museum. For 20 years after the defeat of the Third
for as soon as we finish one cycle with the conclusion
Reich, the Sifrei Torah lay on the synagogue floor.
of Dvarim (Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the
In 1964, a collection of Sifrei Torah, wine cups, candle-
Torah), we immediately begin the next, turning right
sticks and ritual objects, known today as "The Precious

to Bereshit (Genesis, the first book of the Torah).
Legacy," was retrieved by a group of Jews from
"There's always something new for us to learn.
Westminster Synagogue in London. They received per-
There's always growth that all of us individually, and
mission from the government of Prague to ship all 1,564
communally, can achieve."
Torah scrolls to London where they were inspected and,
where possible, repaired. The Westminster congregation
then offered to permanently loan the scrolls to any syna-
Where Do They Come From?
gogue worldwide who requested them.
Our Sifrei Torah, carrying the message of teaching
and life, have come to our community through a
variety of ways.
Bringing The Scrolls Home
They have been acquired during mergers of syna-
In April 1981, Temple Emanu-El received
gogues or dedicated in honor or memory of loved ones.
Czechoslavakian Memorial Scroll No. 1488 to honor
Some Sifrei Torah have had intriguing journeys and
the retirement of Rabbi Milton Rosenbaum.
hold fascinating histories of being smuggled or hidden.
"We use it for b'nai mitzvah and I usually tell its
In the ark at Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield
story just before we pass it through the generations to
sits a special Torah donated by Benson Ford Jr., grandson
of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford, to cele-


From top:
Donor Morris Flatt at the 1999 Torah
dedication ceremony at Young Israel of Oak
A Sephardic Torah . at the 2002 Keter Torah
Synagogue Torah ceremony.

At the 2001 dedication of the Torah at the
Danto Family Health Care Center are Danto
chaplain Rabbi Yerachmiel Rabin, Manny
Mittelman of Southfield, Danto
resident Ira Boykansky and Dr. Stanley
Boykansky of Bloomfield Hills.

Julie Shiffinan of Farmington Hills and Carol
Weintraub Fogel of West Bloomfield light
memorial candles around the Adat Shalom
Synagogue Holocaust Memorial Torah.




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