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Czech Torah Project at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda

June 18, 2018

Rewriting History and More Torah Mystery
 

« rewriting history »

Take a good look at the above photograph. Why do you think the title of the photograph is appropriate?

The Hebrew word for no (לא). The techniques used by the Magiah to correct letters. Oxidation of letters. Prague. The Czech Torah Network. Our Czech Torah. Things that make a Torah pasul (invalid). Do these clues which were all described in the previous four articles help you? Knowing that the word was photographed from Genesis 32:29 in our Torah and knowing it is part of a Hebrew expression, would that help you?

Let’s explain. If you look at the two letters, the reddish brown parts are from the ink of the original letters which have oxidized over time. The dark part is where a previous repair with a different ink was made a long time ago. This is especially visible in the aleph. But notice that the left regel (leg) of the aleph has two hooks connected to the diagonal part of the letter. This was an error done by the original sofer. It is an error that is over three hundred years old, may never have been noticed and was never changed. Even when a repair was done some time later, it still was never fixed! One might quip that our Magiah, by changing the letter, is rewriting history—the history of our Torah; however, our Magiah, with a smile, says that he is « correcting history! »

But there is more imagery in the photograph to make the title appropriate. In Genesis 32:29, which is parshat Vayishlach, we read of the imminent conflict between Jacob and Esau where Hashem sent an angel to save Jacob. In verse 29, we read that the angel, after asking Jacob his name, said to him, « No longer will it be said that your name is Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with the Divine and with man and have overcome. » The Hebrew for no longer (in verse 29) is לא עוד where the error was found. The Jewish community of Prague strove to safeguard over 1500 Torah scrolls and other Jewish artifacts, and while most of them perished in the Holocaust, they did succeed in rewriting the history of Jews that the Nazis attempted to create. Such is the success of the Czech Torah Network—a « non-profit organization that has been formed to educate congregations and their members about the sacred Czech Torah Scrolls which were taken by the Nazis from Jewish synagogues in Bohemia and Moravia. » (The Czech Torah Network, A Holocaust Education Project, 2003, About Us, para. 2) By restoring this Torah, we at BEBY are also ensuring that the wish of the Jewish community of Prague is fulfilled and maintained.

Moreover, the background image in split-level toning is a photo of a broken headstone which is now resting in the Jewish Quarter of Prague. It reminds us that Jews will always survive, and while there are still nations and groups of people in the world who wish to destroy us, we say a defiant לא עוד !

In order to preserve the artifact, here is a photograph of the original letter untouched.

« original error: genesis 32:29 »

A macro lens was used to exact the details of the letter. In order to make the Torah kosher, the aleph had to be removed and rewritten in its entirety.

 

Here is the corrected letter.

« original error: genesis 32:29, corrected »

 

Oddly enough, our Magiah found another error made by the original sofer which was left untouched. To effect the correction, the Magiah was able to scrape the ink away between the two letters. The verse where the error is found is Genesis 34:24 (Vayishlach): « All the people who depart through the gate of his city listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and all the males—all those who depart through the gate of his city—were circumcised. » The two words bolded and underscored in the verse are the two connected words in the photograph.

« original error (genesis 34, 24) »

 

The photograph below shows a juxtaposition of the original error beside the correction. The Magiah had to scrape away just enough of the letter to create a space. He also noted that the ‘vav’ is somewhat elongated to begin with; however, he did not alter it in order to maintain the original style.

« original error (genesis 34, 24), corrected »

 

It is the two photographs below that reveal a very peculiar object discovered in our Torah. There appears to be a stamp mark with blue lettering at the bottom of the klaf (parchment). However, the Magiah cannot make out what is stamped. We can see a backwards e, an upside down and flipped e and an ö. Our Magiah thinks that a hole in the parchment was patched with another piece of parchment. A clamp would have been used to press down on the patch to ensure that the glue adhered. A piece of paper or something with writing was put in between the clamp and the patch in order to avoid damaging the patch itself. This something probably had words on it and the blue lettering seeped onto the patch. Our Magiah assures us that this does not make the Torah pasul.

If you are able to discern what the lettering in the stamp mark is, please let us know and help us shed light on this mystery. The verse in the Torah above the stamp is Genesis 31:24 (Vayetzeh): « But G-d had come to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, “Beware lest you speak with Jacob either good or bad. » The bolded and underscored words in the verse are visible in the photograph.

« unusual stamp »

 

« unusual stamp (enlarged) »

 

On several amudim (pages), we find splotches of candlewax that dripped onto the klaf (parchment). Given the age of our Torah, it would have been in living use before electricity. In the photograph below, you can see wax drippings in orange. The Torah text is Genesis 33:18-19 (Vayishlach): « Jacob arrived intact at the city of Shechem which is the land of Canaaan, upon his arriving from Paddan-aram, and he encamped before the city. He bought the parcel of land upon which he pitched his tent from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred kesitahs. » The bolded and underscored words in the verse are the two you see here in the photograph.

« Shabbat Mincha »

The photograph is aptly titled. It conveys imagery of our Torah being read centuries ago during the Mincha service on Shabbat. Since electric lights had not been invented when this Torah was first written, there would not have been insufficient daylight in the shul and candles would be needed to illuminate the sanctuary for the Torah reading.

 

This article is the fifth in a series of short photo essays to help our community members see and learn with us. We welcome you in being part of the journey of the Czech Torah Restoration Project at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda. Please contact the shul office at 416 633 3838.

Stay tuned for more Torah mysteries as exciting things about our Torah are being discovered during the restoration. And be sure to watch for a special tribute to parshat « Chayei Sarah. »

June 8, 2018

 

Restoration Challenges

« precision in technique » *
 

As the Magiah repairs our Torah, he checks everything line by line, carefully examining each letter one at a time, looking for the most minute details that could render the letter pasul (invalid). If a letter is pasul, then the whole Torah is pasul and cannot be used. Incidentally, we indicate that a Torah is pasul by putting the garter on the outside of the mantel.

The challenges facing our Magiah are many. First, he is working with a ktav (script) that is very old, unique to one region only and has not been used for over a hundred years at least. Therefore, when he corrects a letter, he must match the style of the original ktav. The Magiah explains that he wants to keep the originality of our Torah as much as possible, which is why the repair work is so intricate. But there are more complications. Our Torah, given its age, has had repairs done by other soferim/magi-im who were not attentive to the original ktav, and this is clearly visible now. Because of this, the Magiah has to make repairs in such a way that the ktav maintains a harmonious appearance. Moreover, the Magiah has found old repairs that hadn’t been made correctly; therefore, he must repair the repair!

Repairing older repairs poses other complications. The Magiah has discovered places in our Torah where a previous sofer/magiah used sandpaper to remove letters or even words. As a result, the klaf (parchment) in these areas has become worn, thin, and is often rough. When the klaf is worn or thin, the Magiah has to be extremely careful not to pierce the klaf with either his pen or the scalpel. Certainly, the traditional use of a reed or quill would make repair work on worn/thin areas impossible because the reed or quill would pierce the klaf. In addition, when the klaf is thin or rough, the ink bleeds easy and smudges the letter which would make the Torah pasul.

Another complication is the ink that previous soferim/magi-im have used. The quality was inferior, and as a result, it sometimes cakes when the Magiah uses his pen. This makes it difficult for the new ink to affix. Also, the cakes have to be removed because they can stick together, making improper letter shapes. They can also coagulate between letters thereby connecting them. All of this would render the Torah pasul.

In parshat Toldot, for example, there were amudim (pages) where the klaf was so thin that the repair of the amud (page) took over 3 hours.

But all of these things shed a tiny bit of light on, and assuredly, raise questions about the life story of our Torah. Questions such as why were some letters written with specific tagin (crowns), why was the original ktav not maintained when repairs were done, who made the repairs, did this Torah move around to places where Bohemian style was not used, and how did it happen that significant repairs of entire lines needed to have been made will never be answered.

This article is the fourth in a series of short photo essays to help our community members see and learn with us. We welcome you in being part of the journey of the Czech Torah Restoration Project at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda. Please contact the shul office at 416 633 38 38.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article entitled, « Rewriting History and More Torah Mystery » as singular exciting things about our Torah are discovered during the restoration. And watch for a special tribute to parshat « Chayei Sarah. »

 

« old repair markings »

Notice the two circles in the middle of the photo. Rabbi Zacks, our Magiah, explains that a previous sofer/magiah wrote the circles to indicate where significant repair will need to be done in the future.

 

« repair of ‘ kuf’ »

In this image, you see the stage of the repair of a kuf pasul. The illuminated top left circle shows that the regel—leg of the kuf is touching the top part of the letter which makes the letter invalid. Rabbi Zacks explains that halachically, one cannot just scrape a space away; one must rewrite the whole letter. In the middle illuminated circle, you see the space created after he carefully scrapes the ink. In the far right illuminated circle, you see the newly corrected letter written proportionally in the space.

 

« correcting the ‘pei lefufim’ »

This photo shows the steps Rabbi Zack was required to take in order to correct a letter pei that was pasul. The challenge here was that the original sofer used the pei lefufim style—the flipped letter pei inside. This style has not been used for over a hundred years. The background image shows Rabbi Zacks scraping the letter with his scalpel. In the far left inset, the image shows Rabbi Zacks creating the correct contour of the letter to be created. The middle inset shows the completed contour. The far right inset shows the completed letter now restored.

 

« error and influence »

Here are 2 challenges for you. See if you can spot the error that needed to be corrected, and see if you can spot the Sephardi influence in the original ktav. The answers are found below.

 

« error (corrected) and influence »

The correction made was to the first word in the second line of the amud (page) on the left. The second letter was a ‘nun’, but it is supposed to be a ‘gimmel’ because the correct word is, ‘b’goyeh-hem.’ How is it possible that such an error was made? Rabbi Zacks explains that it is possible that the error was made by the person who had effected a repair to the spot because it appears that there has been some restoration done. That person may have written the wrong letter, or it is possible that the ink smudged and made the ‘gimmel’ look like a ‘nun’.

Did you notice the Sephardi influence in some of the letters ‘lamed’ and ‘nun’ on this amud (page)?

Look at the image on the next page. It is an enlarged image of the incorrect letter. Do you agree with Rabbi Zacks or do you have a different thought?

 

« incorrect letter »

For your reference, the correction was made on the word found in Genesis 10:5 where the descendants of Noah are mentioned.

 

 

* « precision in technique: » While Rabbi Zacks was working one day, he suddenly moved his hand, curved it and cupped it inward and then continued to make corrections to letters. This positioning of his hand appeared to be awkward and cumbersome. He explained that it was necessary at times to place his hand this way in order to avoid smudging letters and getting blots of caked ink on his hand. Caked ink on his hand could be dragged across the klaf or alter the shapes of letters, rendering them pasul.

June 5, 2018

 

The Restoration Begins

« the magiah »

On April 23, 2018, the repairs on our Czech Torah began. Rabbi Zacks explained that the goal of restoration was to make the Torah kosher so that we can use it, but to keep the Torah original. He would repair letters in the original ktav where possible, and not write over every letter so that the antiquity appearance and feel would be lost. If a letter has been oxidized and faded, for example, he would leave it as long as it adheres to halachic requirements.

As the restoration is unfolding, many things are coming to light about our Torah and the life cycle of Torah scrolls. We have already discussed our Torah’s singular style of ktav in the previous articles, but over the next articles, we will learn about mysteries of previous repairs that we are noticing and how Rabbi Zacks painstakingly and meticulously ponders the intent not only of the original sofer but of the soferim who made corrections. In this way, he can make repairs that keep our Torah in its present state and not disturb its history.

Our Czech Torah has a life cycle story that we do not know other than it is over 300 years old, was catalogued and stored by the Jewish Community in Prague in 1942 in the hopes that they would be preserved from the Nazis and brought back to life when the Nazis fell. Given that it is over 300 years old, it would have been in existence since the 1700s. To give you a sense of events that unfolded during the life of our Torah, here is a brief timeline of April 23 occurrences:

Apr 23, 1789:   President-elect George Washington moves into the first executive mansion—                                 The Franklin House in New York

Apr 23, 1791:   James Buchanan, 15th US president was born

Apr 23, 1850:   William Wordsworth, English poet, died

Apr 23, 1851:   Canada issued its first postage stamp, the Three-Penny Beaver on Apr 6, 2018,                               a three penny beaver stamp with a cancelled stamp mark sold for 1035 $ at an                               auction

Apr 23, 1891:   Jews were expelled from Moscow

Apr 23, 1928:   American actress, Shirley Temple Black was born

Apr 23, 1936:   Roy Orbison was born

Apr 23, 1938:   Germans in the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia demanded self-government

Apr 23, 1941:   The Greek army surrendered to the Nazis

Apr 23, 1942:   Bombing of Exter by the Luftwaffe

Apr 23, 1945:   Liberation of the Flossenburg concentration camp Soviet Army fought its way                                 into Berlin

Apr 23, 1954:   Hank Aaron hits his first home run

Apr 23, 1956:   US Supreme court ended race segregation on buses

Apr 23, 1969:   Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death for the assassination of Senator Robert                                 Kennedy; however, the sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment

Apr 23, 1986:   Otto Preminger, Jewish Austrian actor/producer/director who fled Austria                                       before WW II, died

Apr 23, 1987:   Chrylser buys Lamborghini

Apr 23, 2000:   King Abdullah II of Jordan made his first state visit to Israel

Apr 23, 2001:   Bomb blast near Tel Aviv injured 4 people; this was the 3rd bomb blast in 2 days

Apr 23, 2003:   WHO (World Health Organization) added Toronto to its list of places to avoid                                   because of SARS

Apr 23, 2014:   PA and Hamas sign agreement to create a Palestinian unity government

 

This article is the third in a series of short photo essays to help our community members see and learn with us. We welcome you in being part of the journey of the Czech Torah Restoration Project at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda. Please contact the shul office at 416 633 3838.

 

« the magiah’s tools »

The photograph shows the tools and sources that the magiah uses when repairing a Torah. These include pens, a scalpel, sandpaper, ink and printed resources to consult with respect to halachic practices.

A question arises regarding the use of a pen as opposed to a quill or reed. Rabbi Zacks explains that pens became common practice as early as the 1840s. Also, the writing that he is doing is repairing and not writing fresh. The pen is better to suited to write over letters where necessary and makes it easier to avoid puncturing the parchment. When one is repairing, one is trying to make sure that the repairs are maintained for a long period.

Rabbi Zacks explains that Rambam stated that ink must be black. The ink that is used in repairing is a carbon based ink. It is synthetic, jet black and will stay better on the parchment than the ink used to write the Torah itself, which, over time, can crumble. Carbon based ink is also easier to write over the existing ink.

 

« correcting a letter »

Given the age of the Torah, the ink may have flaked away, leaving a letter not fully intact. A pen is used to fill in empty spaces, reshape a letter, or as will be seen in future articles, to rewrite a letter entirely.

 

« correcting spacing »

Letters must not touch; klaf (parchment) must be around every letter. Here, our Magiah uses a scalpel to scractch out an area where two letters are touching. He must be very careful as to not alter a letter’s shape and, chas v’chalila, puncture the klaf.

What can cause letters to touch? It could be something so fine as a smudge from the original ink when the sofer was scribing the Torah or a blot from the ink spreading. Rabbi Zacks often uses a magnifying glass because the connections can be so minute as to be barely visible to the naked eye. Even if the one of the strokes in the tagin are touching each other, they must be separated.

Sometimes, an entire letter needs to be scratched out and rewritten. Sometimes, it’s a whole word or group of words. We will see examples in upcoming articles.

 

« correcting letters »

Word by word, line by line, the Magiah examines, corrects and repairs to ensure the Torah is kosher.

May 25, 2018

 The Ktav
 
«  the re-creation »*

 

A sefer Torah contains precisely 304, 805 Hebrew letters in a special script (ktav), all following a myriad of halachic rules where the major halacha are found in the Talmud and the Masechet Soferim (The Tractate of the Scribes). The letters are in Ktav Ashurit, and we note differences in calligraphy; for example, the calligraphy differs between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Torah scrolls. There are also differences in the writing implements used. An Ashkenazi scribe (sofer) will use quills whereas a Sephardi sofer will use reeds.

 

Tagin—decorative « crowns » are placed on letters and are composed of strokes resembling the small letter zayin. These tagin also have significance in Talmud and Kabbalah and over time, there have been various studies (limudim) for them.
 
When we look at the Czech Torah, we immediately discover some very striking facts. The ktav is very distinct and, while Ashkenazi in style, there are Sephardic influences in some of the letters. The tagin really stand out. Rabbi Zacks, our Magiah (proofreader) who is reviving our Czech Torah, tells us that it is written with a flowery style Bohemian tagin—extra tagin on top of one another and some below the letter. Thesetagin together with unusual prominence of letters had a special significance. However, the masorah(textual guides) for these is long gone.
 
The photographs and the photo stories below are inspired by the information Rabbi Zacks discusses as he brings our Torah back to life—from pasul (invalid) to kosher, and by the history of this Torah which was described in the previous article.
 
 
This article is the second in a series of short photo essays to help our community members see and learn with us. We welcome you in being part of the journey of the Czech Torah Restoration Project at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda. Please contact the shul office at 416-633-3838.
 
 
Very unique tagin and flourishes above and below the letter « nun ». Notice that the letters « nun, » « shin » and « lamed » are Sephardi in style. Why do you think there is an influence of two styles? What might that tell you about where this Torah has been, and about the sofer (scribe) who wrote it?
 
 
Note the unusual flourishes on the letters « lamed » and « chet » as well as the « pei lefufim. »

 

« the nakedness of adam and eve and the cunning of the serpent »
 
The Torah text in the photograph is Bereishit, 2:25 and 3:1 : They were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed; Now the serpent was cunning beyond any beast of the field that Hashem G-d had made. The Hebrew word for naked is ערום . It is also the word for cunning. Notice that the sofer made the letter ayin for each word more prominent and with distinct tagin and flourishes. What was his reason? Perhaps this was the message: the nakedness of humanity was the intention of Hashem, and all we need to do is listen to Hashem. However, humanity is perpetually tempted by the cunning of others and by the cunning of our own frailty, doubt and yetzer harah.
 
The Torah text in this photograph is superimposed over one of the stained glass panes in the main sanctuary. The tree image is appropriate to the text, but superimposing the text on the shul’s window is a way to show that BEBY is fulfilling the wish of those who safeguarded the scroll during the Nazi occupation, hoping that someday, it will be brought back to life.
 
« lech lecha: unique tagin on lamed »
 
The Torah script here is from the opening line of Lech Lecha where Hashem instructs Abraham (then called, Abram) to leave his land, Haran, and go to Canaan where Hashem promises to make him « a great nation. » Notice the very distinct tagin on the two « lamed. » The imagery in this photograph offers interpretations of the tagin. First, it would not be surprising that the sofer would decorate the two words, lech lecha with unique tagin since they are very significant. Indeed, they have elicited many commentaries. Rabbi Morrison sums up Rashi’s explanation of the word, lecha, meaning that Hashem is saying to Abraham that going is for his benefit and his good.
 
Second, the very shape of the tagin might be considered. The tagin look like manicules—pointing hands that first appeared in medieval manuscripts to draw attention to something important. And they are pointing toward the left, which, on the compass rose, is westward. Canaan was west of Haran where Abraham had been when Hashem instructed him to leave.
 
Again, the purpose of superimposing the text on the shul’s stained glass in the Lerman Chapel is to show that BEBY is fulfilling the wish of those who safeguarded the Torah and other Jewish treasures during the Nazi occupation, hoping that someday, it will be brought back to life. The window is part of the panes that paint the port of Yaffo overlooking the sea, welcoming newcomers. But here is an inimitable point. If the text were actually on the stained glass window of our chapel, the tagin would be pointing eastward as one looked at it from the inside. East is Israel—Hashem’s covenant with Abraham, east is Jerusalem—Hashem’s holy city, and east in the chapel is the Aron Hakodesh where our Czech Torah rests as it is coming back to life.
 
 
* the re-creation » The Czech Torah Network, A Holocaust Education Project, (2003, The Story of the Jewish Torahs of Czechoslovakia, Chapter One – The Trip from Prague to London, para. 2) states that, in storing the collection as the Jewish curators did, « one would like to believe that as the Torah scrolls and the other sacred objects, including some of great value and antiquity, passed through their hands, these martyrs took comfort in the hope that ultimately Hitler would fall and that the ceremonial objects, in some cases hundreds of years old, would be returned to the restored Jewish communities. »
The Torah is open at Breishit—it is open wide and in bright light from the Ner Tamid and the light in the ceiling, suggesting that right at the beginning, this Torah is ready to give its love and life and the words of Hashem. Letters in Torah script appear to rise from the Torah itself—their transformations and skewed positions suggest that they are free, unfettered, light and happy. They are colored in reds and yellows, being bathed in the light of the Ner Tamid. These letters are tamid—eternal, truthful, constant, and continuous, because they spell the fundamental statement, « Am Yisrael Chai. » And that BEBY, in restoring this Torah, is honoring the memory and the desire of those Jewish Czech curators can be seen in the words above our Aron Hakodesh where four letters in the flowery Bohemian script from the Torah are permanently affixed.
 


Beresheit  - May 15, 2018

בראשית
 
 

« naděje na návrat » (hope for return)*
 
The Torah scroll that we are restoring comes from Czechoslovakia where over 300,000 Jews lived prior to World War II. In 1942, members of the existing Jewish community in Prague brought a large collection of Judaica which included over 1,500 Torah scrolls to the Central Jewish Museum in Prague from synagogues and communities in Bohemia and Moravia that were destroyed at the hands of the Nazis. These members then « sorted, classified and catalogued [every artifact] and arranged the [Torah] scrolls in stacks reaching from the floor to the ceiling. » (The Czech Torah Network, A Holocaust Education Project, 2003, The Story of the Jewish Torahs of Czechoslovakia, Chapter One – The Trip from Prague to London, para. 2)
 
After the war, the Torah scrolls were moved to a synagogue in Michle, a district of Prague. The Czech Torah Network (2003, A Holocaust Education Project, The Story of the Jewish Torahs of Czechoslovakia, Chapter One – The Trip from Prague to London, para. 3) describes the impossibility of preserving the scrolls: « In order to keep parchment scrolls from perishing, they must be rolled from time to time. This was patently impossible to do with over 1,500 scrolls housed in desperately cramped quarters. And so the scrolls seemed condemned to slow decay. »
 
In 1963, London art dealer Eric Estorick was approached by Artia – the Czech government department which controlled the sale of art while he was in Prague, and was offered the opportunity to buy the scrolls. Estorick contacted one of his clients, Ralph Yablon, « prominent philanthropist...[and] founder member of Westminster Synagogue » who purchased all 1,564 scrolls and donated them to his synagogue. (Memorial Scrolls Trust, 2015, Trust Founders, Ralph Yablon, para. 1)
 
Allan Snow explains that our Torah was split off from that collection before it was brought to England. It was Rabbi Aaron Dov Zacks who brought the Torah to Allan`s attention.
 
Rabbi Aaron Dov Zacks is the Magiah (proof reader) who will be restoring the Czech Torah. He is the person who disposes our books and other religious items in a genizah where they are later buried. When he finds things which he believes might interest us, he will tell us. For example, he contacted us to send machzorim to Florida after the hurricane to help synagogues during the High Holy Days.
 
Rabbi Zacks came across this Torah and informed Allan Snow about it. Rabbi Zacks explained that the Torah was about 300 years old and had survived the Holocaust. He said it could be readily repaired at a reasonable price. Rabbi Zacks had obtained the Torah from a prominent family who had brought it to Canada but who was unable to repair it on their own. Allan explains that he was curious why Rabbi Zacks had contacted him. Rabbi Zacks replied that it was because he had had every confidence in our shul to procure it, repair it, use it and cherish it.
 
Pei lefufim

A Torah gives clues to its approximate age. Rabbi Zacks explains that our Torah shows wear of the parchment—browning from age and oxidation of the letters. More significantly, the Halachic style used in this Torah predates the standardized style of writing. In fact, it predates the Keseth Ha’Sofer—one of the earliest codifications of lettering. There are certain letters that do not align with any other script. For example, this Torah uses certain techniques (Pei lefufim—flipped (inside)) that are commonly found in Torah scrolls coming from this region. You find these techniques on Torah scrolls of this age or even older. Moreover, there are areas in the Torah where repairs have been done—not by the original sofer. These repairs show their age through oxidation, and they are more in line with standardized practices.

 
The restoration of the Torah is now under way. BEBY`s plans are to spend the year bringing the Torah back to life and to use it. We wish to use it in the services and as a teaching tool to everyone in our community. We are planning to hold workshops while the Torah is being repaired and we would like to give everyone of all ages an opportunity to be a part of the restoration process. As well, as part of our shul`s continued growth, we want to raise money for ritual repairs, education and educational programs.
 
This article is the first in a series of short photo essays where our community members can see and learn with us. If you are interested in being part of the journey of the Czech Torah Restoration Project at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda, please contact the shul office at 416 633 3838.
 
*« naděje na návrat » (the hope for return): The Czech Torah Network, A Holocaust Education Project, (2003, The Story of the Jewish Torahs of Czechoslovakia, Chapter One – The Trip from Prague to London, para. 2) states that, in storing the collection as the Jewish curators did, « one would like to believe that as the Torah scrolls and the other sacred objects, including some of great value and antiquity, passed through their hands, these martyrs took comfort in the hope that ultimately Hitler would fall and that the ceremonial objects, in some cases hundreds of years old, would be returned to the restored Jewish communities. » The Czech title of this photo and the imagery show how Beth Emeth Bais Yehud Hebrew Men of England is fulfilling that hope. The Torah, unrestored, is opened at Breishit on the podium in the Lerman Chapel. The slightly diffused figure of a Rabbi stands alone, in darkness, bathed only by the clear light of the Ner Tamid. In the background are three faded images of Jewish victims of the Shoah—one of whom was recorded to have survived. The yellow triangles, though, remain clear—poignant reminders of the persecution. The entire background is black and devoid of people. However, the Ner Tamid is sharp and in focus because it is the eternal light of Hashem and a symbol of eternal Jewish survival and rebirth.
Sat, 23 June 2018 10 Tammuz 5778