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CBI's Holocaust Torah #911

The Czech Memorial Torah Scroll #911 is known as the “orphan” scroll, because of the 1,572 scrolls saved in Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust years, #911 is the only Torah scroll that no history has been able to be traced to as to its origin. #911 came to Temple Israel in Scotch Plains in 1987 and is there to this day, although the synagogue is now known as Congregation Beth Israel, having merged with Plainfield’s Temple Beth El more than 10 years ago.

While some Torah scrolls are in a usable, “readable” condition, and some others have been able to be restored to be read from, that is not the case with #911. It was recently examined by a scribe, Sofer Neil Yerman. While determining  that #911 is too old and fragile to be considered for restoration, he was able to detail some of its history. According to Sofer Yerman, #911 dates from somewhere around 1700 and seems to have been written by at least 3 scribes at different times. Sofer Yerman indicates that two scribes seem to be Bohemian, and one Germanic. The way that is determined is by the way  the Hebrew letters are written. If they appear softer, more rounded, they were written by a Bohemian (Czech) scribe. A more squared letter is generally written by a scribe of Germanic origin. And finally, Sofer Yerman, has determined that #911 is really a composite of three sections, two Bohemian and one Germanic, collated into its present form some 200 years ago.

Today at CBI #911 is always on open display in the synagogue lobby and during High Holiday services is present on the Bima. #911 many times is also taken to middle and high schools as part of Holocaust education. Its presence at CBI serves as a constant reminder of the tragedy of the Holocaust.

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Wed, May 29 2024 21 Iyyar 5784