Damaged Torah Restoration

WTOC 10 March 2003
Steven Shoob

An amazing story is taking place at a Savannah synagogue, where one of more than 1,500 damaged Torahs from Nazi-torn Europe is on display. Motioning to the Torah, Rabbi Robert Wolkoff of the Congregation Agudath Achim said, "This object behind me is the single holiest object we have. It is the word of God, recorded in the form that it was originally given to us 3,000 years ago at Mt. Sinai, and for us, this is the core of our religion, of our religious beliefs, of our civilization. It is more precious to us than life itself."

Each Torah is unique, and this one tells and this one tells an amazing story of survival. It is one of 1,564 deteriorating scrolls stockpiled by the Nazis from hundreds of Jewish communities wiped out in the Holocaust.

"What they were doing is collecting these objects to exhibit in a museum to an extinct Jewish race," explained congregation member Len Winter.

But the Torahs were rescued and taken to a synagogue in London. It was the beginning of an almost unbelievable story which would soon involve synagogues all over the world.

"This particular one comes from a city called Kamenice, about 60 miles southeast of Prague," said Winter.

A special Torah scribe, called a sofer, will visit the synagogue as part of a scholar-in-residence program.

Rabbi Eric Ray will restore the Kamenice Torah as part of the synagogue's centennial celebration.

"If Jews reestablish a community in Kamenice, we will return this Torah to them for their use," said Winter.
And the fabric that holds the Jewish people together will once again be made whole. It will take until December to complete the restoration. It will be paid for by donations from the congregation. The Torah can been seen at Congregation Agudath Achim at 9 Lee Blvd., near Abercorn St., just south of the Twelve Oaks shopping plaza. Rabbi Ray will be speaking Friday and Saturday, call the synagogue at 912.352.4737 for details.
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