A true story - Livre d'Or — LiveJournal

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A true story
Saturday, 06 November 2004 at 10:52 am

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Forty years ago, a synagogue in London was contacted by the Czech government with a very unusual proposition. They had acquired some Jewish artefacts stolen by the Nazis, and being communist and all, didn't have very much use for this collection, so would the synagogue like them? The synagogue were of course keen to have these artefacts; after all, there might be something there that could be used in a Holocaust memorial.

So appropriate arrangements were made, and some time later, two large lorries arrived at the synagogue. The lorries contained somewhere over 1,500 Torah scrolls. Soon after this, a peripatetic scribe arrived at the synagogue. As was his habit, he asked whether they had any scrolls in need of repair. Just imagine his face when he heard the reply!

It transpired that when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia, they had instigated a project to gather together all the important treasures from all the synagogues in the country, with the aim of putting them together in a museum to glorify their achievements in completely destroying every single member of the Jewish race. The obviously financially valuable objects had long since been dispersed, but the scrolls had sat in a derelict synagogue for 20 years. It is hardly surprising that their condition was ranged from terrible to dire.

The rescue and repair effort took decades of work, carried out by a team headed by the original scribe who had happened to show up at an opportune moment. Many of the scrolls were restored to the point of being usable by synagogues; they were dispersed to communities around the world, mostly but not exclusively in America. Several of the communities which benefitted were made up of people who had come from Europe as refugees, and had few resources to buy new Torah scrolls for themselves. Today, with communities in the west being more prosperous, some of the Czech scrolls are being donated to struggling new synagogues in central and Eastern Europe as well.

The scrolls which could not be used in services (because there are certain kinds of damage which are ritually irreperable, in particular damage to the Divine Name) are used for display and educational purposes. There are a hundred or so scrolls remaining which are so badly damaged that they would probably fall to pieces if handled. Those are kept as a memorial, complete with the original museum labels prepared by the Nazis, describing the communities of origin of the scrolls and the fates of the communities themselves.

Moooood: impressedawed
Tuuuuune: Beethoven: Choral Symphony #9
Discussion: 6 contributions | Contribute something

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darcydodo: sappho
Date:November 6th, 2004 06:14 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, 12:14 pm (darcydodo's time)
The scribe's blog is cool — did you go an read the whole thing about creating a new tikkun?
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livredor: default
Date:November 6th, 2004 06:31 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, 06:31 pm (livredor's time)
The scribe's blog is indeed cool, and he's a very cool scribe in general. He's actually the son of my friend and teacher R Michaels, and the first Reform scribe in the UK. hatam_soferet doesn't agree with the way he works with halacha, I think, but he's generally a really cool guy.

The new Tikkun stuff I find a little bit creepy in a way, but I'm pretty conservative about Holocaust liturgy. Certainly if you accept the initial idea the way they've gone about it is absolutely amazing.

And it's weird, but researching this post, I've found about two deaths I hadn't known about previously, both of people who have taught me, the scribe Vivian Solomons (who taught "Mordechai Pinchas" (a pseudonym)) and R Albert Friedlander (who used to be the rabbi of Westminster synagogue where the Czech scrolls were first taken).
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darcydodo: gregorian lamp
Date:November 6th, 2004 06:43 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, 12:43 pm (darcydodo's time)
He's actually the son of my friend and teacher R Michaels

I figured you probably might know him. :)

"Mordechai Pinchas" (a pseudonym)

Yeah, well, it has his real name on the newspaper clipping on the last page. The one that's right next to one of his numerous misused apostrophes in its/it's. ;)

I've found about two deaths I hadn't known about previously

It sucks that people die. :(
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hatam_soferet: default
Date:November 7th, 2004 01:54 am (UTC)
15 hours after journal entry
It's not that I don't agree with the way he works with halacha, what he does in his own work is highly consistent, and that's all I ask of people. It's that when he's trying to do creative halachic stuff there are some factors he doesn't know about, so when he tries to write halachic innovations he doesn't do it very well because he doesn't have the necessary range of knowledge. So I don't agree with some of his halachic stuff because I know sources he doesn't. This is not the same as utterly disapproving of what he does. I think he is a Good Thing.
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beckyzoole: default
Date:December 7th, 2004 03:34 am (UTC)
30 days after journal entry, December 6th, 2004 09:34 pm (beckyzoole's time)
I've just friended you after reading your posts in 's LJ, and in reading over your journal I was struck by the icon you used here. That's the start of my Bat Mitzvah portion! After 31 years, I can still chant the opening of Sefer D'varim...
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sovevuni: default
Date:October 22nd, 2005 06:27 pm (UTC)
350 days after journal entry, 07:27 pm (sovevuni's time)
That's a neat idea!
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