Story of Our Torahs

Article researched and written by Veronica Kahn

In his book “To Be a Jew”, Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin explains that the Torah is the embodiment of the Jewish faith – that God’s will was made manifest in the Written Torah. Indeed, the Torah (The Five Books of Moses) is considered by some Jews to be the exact record of the word of God that was written down by the Prophet Moses.

Temple Bat Yam is home to two Torahs that were rescued from a small town in Poland by an organization called “Save a Torah” which was founded by Rabbi Menachem Youlus. According to Rabbi Youlus, one Torah is from Kolish or Kalisz, Poland, written approximately 1902. The other is from Bedzin or Bendzin, Poland, written approximately in the1890s.

The members of the synagogue that first housed these Torahs got word during WWII that the German army was coming. They built three
boxes, one inside the other for each Torah and buried them. The town was annihilated. Nevertheless, a document leading to the location of the Torahs survived. When they were found they were in excellent condition

They have been at Temple Bat Yam ten years, and recently needed repair. The Torah is a kosher document, and everything that makes up the physical torah is from a kosher source. Our Rabbi, Susan Warshaw took them to a Sofer (a licensed Jewish Scribe) to have them restored. They are back in good shape, and back in service to the congregation of Temple Bat Yam.

On December 8, 2013, the Temple dedicated its newest Torah, with a wonderful celebration. This development reflected a need for a full-sized, yet small light-weight, Torah that everyone in the Congregation, old and young alike, could carry, lift, and feel a connection with. Our addition was available from Temple Beth Israel in Carmel, California. Our Sofer (Torah scribe) Neil Yerman informed us that the Torah’s script was in the German style, probably from Northern Germany, and was about 100 years old. During the fall of 2013, the Temple initiated its Torah/Legacy project, which resulted in each donor being able to make a crown on a letter in the Torah. The Legacy Fund was not only for the Torah acquisition but also for the long-term support for the Temple.