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A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 10/9/2020

This evening is Simchat Torah, when we celebrate the centrality of Torah as the foundation of Judaism. In our ark there are three Sifrei Torah. The tall Sefer Torah in the center has a unique story; one that many of our congregants do not know.

We recently created a page on our Temple’s website that tells the origin of this Sefer Torah and how it came to TBT. It is a precious legacy which we hold dearly. Here is the story as told by Sharon Sacks:

“Each Shabbat and throughout the year on holidays and festivals, we open the ark which contains three beautiful Torahs. The middle Torah, the largest of the three, holds a special place in our family’s heart. In 1986, after my father passed away, my mother, Hilda Zell, set out on a journey to fulfill my father’s dream: to secure a Sefer Torah for Temple Beth Torah. My father was born and raised in Bardijov, Czechoslovakia, a small town in Slovakia. When the Nazis were close to removing the Jews from their town, the family was able to secure only two passports. It was decided that my father and my uncle would leave, later finding refuge in the United States for my father and Israel for my uncle.

When my mother began her search to find a Torah from Bardijov, she contacted The Memorial Scrolls Trust, a group who restored and repaired Torahs from the Holocaust. Almost 2000 Torahs were found and housed at the Westminster Synagogue in London, England. My mother learned that no Torahs were rescued from Bardijov. Instead the group offered our Temple, on permanent loan, a Sefer Torah from Pacov.  Pacov is a small town near Moravia. In 1933 the Nazis invaded Pacov and deported all the Jews.

Because the Sefer Torah has water damage, burn marks, and is missing letters and text, it is not considered a kosher Torah. Nonetheless, our children, Loren and Rebecca, chanted from this Torah on the occasion of their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. As they chanted, my father’s strength, determination, and love of Judaism was ever present. Every time the Sefer Torah is taken from the ark and unrolled, I embrace my father’s legacy and the memory of the six million souls who did not survive. May the memory of my parents, the Jews of Pacov, and all the others we have lost in the Holocaust be a blessing.”

Sharon & Rick Sacks Stephen & Shelley Zell  


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