Historic Torah in Lynnwood for the Holiday of Shavuot

Monday, May 22, 2017

Photo by Terry Ballard
Stained glass Torah in Free
Synagogue of Flushing
By Rabbi Berel Paltiel

Seventy-eight years ago, a Torah scroll was sentenced to death along with the Jewish people. Now it will be in Snohomish County, as part of a whirlwind tour that will include hundreds of communities all across the globe.

On Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass” when more than 1,400 synagogues were torched and 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed across Germany, fourteen-year-old Isaac Schwartz of Hamburg knew he had to act. Seeing a pyre of Torah scrolls and other Jewish sacred items left unattended, he bravely doused the flames and attempted to recover the holy objects. His heroic efforts yielded a single Torah scroll.

A Torah scroll, which contains the Five Books of Moses, is the most sacred object in Judaism. An authentic handwritten parchment scroll can take up to a year to craft at the deft hands of a sofer (trained scribe). It is then stored in the ark in the front of the synagogue and read only during services.

As the situation continued to deteriorate rapidly, Schwartz had the scroll buried in the ground along with a number of other sacred items. There it lay for the duration of the Holocaust until it was retrieved by Schwartz and his family. But the trauma had taken its toll, and much of the scroll had been rendered unusable.

Recently, the relic was purchased from the Schwartz family by philanthropist Leonard Wien and donated to the Jewish Learning Institute, which operates hundreds of adult educational franchises at Chabad Centers across the globe.

Over a period of 18 months, a sofer painstakingly rewrote the faded letters and replaced parts of parchment that were beyond repair.

Having been finally completed last year, the newly refurbished Torah has been sent on a historic mission, hopping from community to community, in a spiritual gesture of unity that spans continents, cultures, and generations.

The historic scroll will be present at the Chabad Jewish Center of SnoCo in Lynnwood, where it will be used on the Holiday of Shavuot, (May 30 - June 1) the day which the Jewish people first received the Torah on Mount Sinai over 3300 years ago.



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