Resurrected 19th Century Torah Scroll will be Inaugurated At Chabad
On Monday, January 21st, Completing a Historic Circle.
Chabad of South Palm Beach is thrilled to bring to completion its Torah Restoration Campaign which will culminate in an Inauguration Celebration at Chabad in the Plaza Del Mar in Manalapan, on Monday, January 21st @ 5pm. The program will begin with the penning in of the final letters of the Torah and will continue with a procession to welcome the Torah to the Synagogue, culminating in a festive dinner celebration.
The provenance and journey of the Torah scroll that was restored through the generosity of members of the community, spearheaded by Rose and Ira Yavarkovsky, is an epic tale that parallels the story of Eastern European Jewry in the last century and a half.
By analyzing the parchment and style of the text, experts have pinpointed the Torah scroll as having been written in the 1860s in the Pale of Settlement in Imperial Russia, more specifically in the white Russian region of Smolensk. Rabbi Gad Sebag, the scribe who coordinated the restoration of the Torah, explained that although each and every letter of the Torah is consistent in every scroll across the globe, slight variations of font and ornamentation style have evolved over the centuries. “This Torah is a pristine example of the very meticulous style of the Alter Rebbe, the founder of the Chabad movement, as it incorporates all ritualistic and kabbalistic customs that preceded it. The penmanship of this scroll is particularly fine and we worked hard to find a scribe who could match it for the columns that needed to be rewritten entirely.”
After having served the Jewish community in Imperial Russian Times, the Torah went underground during the Communist Era in which participating in Jewish observance was a dangerous proposition. After WWII, the Torah was rescued and brought to the United States by a holocaust survivor who kept it in his Brooklyn home along with other rescued Torahs for 60 years, unable to afford the cost of its restoration. After his passing, his estate sold the Torah scrolls to scribes to invest in their restoration.
When Chabad was searching for a Torah to restore for use in its synagogue, the provenance and rarity of the Torah was compelling. The principal donor of the Torah, Mr. Ira Yavarkovsky, has invested his philanthropic efforts in funding Jewish orphanages and schools for children in the former USSR. What a providential parallel to give a second life to a Torah scroll from the very same region. Rabbi Stolik of Chabad of South Palm Beach was intrigued by the penmanship of the scroll that originates in the birthplace of the Chabad movement. “Our families stem from the Pale of Settlement and they too experienced the difficulties of life under the czars, the chokehold of the Communist Regime on Jewish practice, the horror of Hitler, and ultimately, resettlement in the United States after the war. This scroll continues the legacy of the Jewish nation in a way that is very close to home for me.”