Monday, May 5, 2008

An Interesting Yom HaShoah Tale

The truth is stranger than fiction. Every time I read a book with an implausible plot line I am reminded how implausible life can be by some story in the news. Today, Alex sent this link to Saul about the recovery of a Holocaust Torah. As I read it, I was incredulous at all the coincidences that brought this sacred scroll to light, literally. The image of this rabbi walking around a Polish Jewish cemetery with a metal detector is imprinted in my imagination. We have gone so far afield from our traditions that this would never be possible now.

When Ari became a bar mitzvah, he was the first to read from a recovered Holocaust Torah that we, among many others at our synagogue, helped to restore. By coincidence, the Torah was from the area of Czechoslovakia where Saul's parents grew up. I felt it was very meaningful for him to read from a Torah that possibly his ancestors read from as much as four hundred years ago, but I was unprepared for the shivers that ran down my spine and the goosebumps as I drew close to it that day.

In the Orthodox tradition, a woman may not approach the Torah to read from the scroll, but in our Conservative tradition, women may even become rabbis. I had been close to a Torah before that moment and have been there many times since, but no experience of Aliyah has ever given me that type of physical sensation. That Torah now resides in a glass case especially built to display it and it is only used on rare and special occasions.

Alex sent this e-mail along with the story:
"Rabbi Menachem Youlis (who is in the picture and the focus of the article) is a close friend of mine—he does extraordinary work with rescuing sifre torah…he has an organization that is called

He is truly one of the good guys of the world…

I have known about this project for a little while—what Menachem had to do to get the torah and then get it out of the country is just more examples of the anti-Semitism that still runs rampant in Poland…"

His email only hints at the difficulties encountered in recovering this Torah from a country that still remains extremely anti-Semitic. Perhaps as time passes, the people will become more educated and tolerant. I hope it doesn't take another 70 years.


Anonymous said...

David Reif sent me the NY Times article this morning. He doesn't know your connection with Menachim.

sabasenders said...

Some feel that the Priest should not have taken payment for the scroll sections. I choose to think that he deserves the money for having saved, guarded, risked his life by having them. If discovered by the Nazis he would have been put to death.