Torah from Holocaust to be on display March 28
A 175-year-old Torah that disappeared during the Holocaust and was recently recovered and restored will be on display at Lake Erie College March 28. On loan from Kenyon College, the Torah will be on display during an interactive program with Marc Bragin, Kenyon Hillel director and Jewish chaplain at Kenyon, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the Social Parlor located in College Hall.
Bragin will be available until 3 p.m. to answer any questions. He will also lead a Shabbat service in the Morley Music Building starting at 5:30 p.m. A dessert reception will immediately follow the service in the Social Parlor.
The Torah, comprising the Five Books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy), is Judaism's holiest text. The hand-lettered parchment scroll that will be on display was restored by Save a Torah, a Maryland-based nonprofit organization that has recovered and repaired nearly 600 Torahs. Most of the restored torahs were found in Eastern Europe, where they once belonged to Jewish communities that were eradicated by the Nazis during World War II. Kenyon's Torah is from an area near Lvov, part of Ukraine.
Rabbi Menachem Youlus, who has earned the nicknames “the Jewish 007” and "the Indiana Jones of rabbis" for the risks he’s taken following leads on sacred scrolls, brokering secret deals, smuggling Torahs across hostile borders and even digging for them, heads Save A Torah.
He began tracking down lost Torahs about twenty years ago and estimates that thousands of scrolls survived the Nazis' devastation of European Jewry. Youlus has traveled throughout Europe, as well as in the Middle East and Africa, following up on reports of Torahs.
Youlus's Save A Torah Foundation retains 27 scribes and 20 spotters who help find endangered scrolls. The spotters may be Jewish, Roman Catholic or Muslim; they may be priests, diplomats or curators.
Once Youlus locates a Torah, he brings it back to the U.S. to assess damage with digital cameras and infrared scanners.
The task of restoring Kenyon’s Torah took Youlus more than four months to complete. A Torah contains nearly 305,000 Hebrew letters, and about two-thirds of the letters in the Kenyon scroll were damaged and had to be corrected or entirely rewritten.