Editor’s Note: The following was written by Rabbi Kenneth Stern of Congregation Gesher Shalom:
The Torah Scroll is Judaism's most sacred object. It is handwritten by a specially trained scribe on sheets of parchment skin and takes about a year to complete. Usually it is wrapped in a decorated velvet mantle and adorned with a silver shield and crowns. It rests in an Ark and is not displayed unless one is about to chant from it as part of a Synagogue service.
But there is one Torah Scroll at Congregation Gesher Shalom that is open and on permanent display. It is a Holocaust Torah, "a brand plucked from the fire."
This scroll is one of approximately 1,500 that were amassed by the Nazis in Czechoslovakia, along with all manner of Judaica, that were to be part of a museum that Hitler envisioned establishing in the Prague Ghetto—a museum of the extinct Jewish people.
Sometime after the war, these Torah scrolls—some in excellent condition; some in various states of deterioration and desecration—were transferred to the Holocaust Memorial Trust in London, England for distribution to Synagogues and schools throughout the world.
Through the generosity of Dr. Jerome Goldfischer and family, Congregation Gesher Shalom acquired one of these Torah scrolls, and we will take it from its display case and read a brief passage from it, as we do every year, during our Yom haShoah – Holocaust Commemoration – on Sunday evening, April 22, at 7 p.m.
The special passage, Deuteronomy 25:17-19, will be chanted by teenager Justine Laufer, a descendent of survivors.
This Memorial will be addressed by Eva Lux Braun, a native of Czechoslovakia and the survivor of five concentration camps. Six large memorial candles (for the six million Jews who perished in the Shoah) will be lit by survivors who are members of the congregation, accompanied by their families. Members of the Congregation and clergy will participate and witness in various ways. Special artwork and posters will be on display, and a new piece of art, created by member Doryne Davis, will be dedicated.
This annual commemoration, marking the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, is open to anyone who may wish to observe. – The Jewish Community Center of Fort Lee is located at 1449 Anderson Avenue, at the corner of Stillwell Avenue in Fort Lee.