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The culmination of an 18-month project to restore a beloved Holocaust Torah Scroll will take place in a moving Completion Ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 9:45 a.m., at Temple Sinai of Sharon.
The scroll, number 655, is one of 1,564 scrolls recovered in Prague after the Holocaust. It dates back to the late 1700s and is one of the last remaining artifacts of the Jewish community of Prestice, Czechoslovakia.
Dignitaries from around the region and from London will join Rabbi Joseph Meszler, Torah Scribe Rabbi Kevin Hale and the Temple Sinai congregation for a Completion Ceremony, which will begin with a procession of Czech Torah Scrolls from around the region. Representatives will bring their Scrolls from congregations in Georgetown, CT; Portsmouth, NH; and Brockton, Lowell, Marblehead, Needham, Newton, Randolph and Sharon, MA.
Of the 14 Memorial Scrolls from Prestice, others are on loan to congregations in Israel and in the U.S. in Pennsylvania, California, New York, Florida, Illinois and Hawaii.
“Celebrating the restoration of an old scroll is very special as it reflects continuity of our faith from generation to generation,” said Jeffrey Ohrenstein, Chairman of both the Memorial Scrolls Trust in London and the Westminster Synagogue, who will give the morning’s keynote address.
“Temple Sinai’s scroll is from Prestice, a small town in Bohemia, Czechoslovakia. This scroll was one of 1,564 from Bohemia and Moravia that survived the Shoah and were brought to the Westminster Synagogue in London in 1964,” Ohrenstein explained. “One of nearly 1,000 scrolls loaned to communities and organizations in the U.S., it is a precious legacy, and its restoration is a testimony both to our survival and beliefs. In 1980, the Westminster Synagogue formed the Memorial Scrolls Trust and handed it the task of continuing its work with the scrolls. I am privileged to be Chairman of both the Trust and the Westminster Synagogue, which also has a Prestice scroll on loan. I felt it important not only to attend, but to bring our Prestice scroll with me to share in the celebration.”
Rabbi Hale has restored Temple Sinai’s Holocaust Torah Scroll to its original beauty—repairing holes, missing letters and seams—and revealing its Ashkenazi and Sephardic elements and hidden mystical symbols.
During the restoration process, community members had the opportunity to participate in special Torah letter writing sessions with Rabbi Hale, as well as in a number of lectures, concerts and other events throughout the year.
As part of the Completion Ceremony, the names of the Prestice community will be read as they become members of Temple Sinai.
“I hope attendees will be enthused with the same passion for the Czech scrolls as our volunteers, my co-trustees and myself,” said Ohrenstein.
One of his takeaways from his upcoming keynote: “The Sifrei Torah is the one thing that binds all Jews together, regardless of their denomination. Not only that, but the scrolls are a link between all Abrahamic religions. May we always try to remember what we have in common rather than what divides us.”
Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information contact the Temple Sinai office at 781-784-6081 or visit www.temple-sinai.com.
This program is supported in part by a grant by CJP's South Area Planning Committee.