Before the creation of the Universe
Torah was created,
Written on white fire on black fire
God’s visionary blueprint for the world,
waiting to be discovered.
Thirty five hundred years ago at Sinai the words of Torah were spoken and heard, and would resonate throughout time and space for eternity. Transmitted from Moses to the people, to judges, to kings, to prophets, to rabbis, to us. Transmitted in the wind and the stars, in the flowers and the trees. The words of Torah read, spoken, heard, done, spread to every corner of the world.
Two hundred years ago, in an unknown community in Czechoslovakia, a holy scroll of Torah was written. A unique, special, precious scroll, one which had never existed before and would never exist again. For one hundred and forty years she served her community and her community served her. Hundreds and thousands of men and women poured out their hearts and souls to her and she to them. She listened to their singing, their davening, their joys, their tears, their prayers. She shared countless Bar Mitzvahs, and young people were called to read her and commit themselves to her teachings and thereby to enter into young adulthood.
Sixty years ago, 1941-1942, in the darkest of nights, she was torn from the people of her community who were sent by the Nazis to Terezin where they would join with the other Jewish communities of Czechoslovakia. From there they were transported to Auschwitz to meet their death. She was taken by the Nazis to Prague, to join one thousand five hundred sixty three other Torah scrolls to be imprisoned in a basement warehouse of the Prague museum to await her fate: to be an exhibit in the Nazis’ Museum of the Extinct Race. For twenty-two years she stayed in this basement, until thirty-seven years ago, in 1964, when she and the other scrolls were rescued and the outstretched arms of an airplane bore them on eagle’s wings to London. At least she made it to Bamidbar, the wilderness, to be counted. One thousand five hundred and sixty three Torah scrolls came forth from Prague – Mitzrayim. She, this scroll, from a community in Czechoslovakia which could not be identified, had only a number: 518.
After her twenty-two years imprisonment in Prague, she dwelt in this Synagogue home for orphaned Torahs in London, this nameless scroll, unused, unread, unspoken, unheard, for twenty-seven more years, forty-nine years in all, hoping, waiting for a Jewish community in some corner of the world to give her a new home and a new life, to bring her to a Promised Land.
B’nai Horin is a name from the Passover Haggadah, “Avadim hayinu, atah b’nai horin,” we were slaves, now we are Children of Freedom. B’nai Horin is a Jewish Community in Los Angeles, California, city of angels. We began over 30 years ago. We are a member of ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal, which was founded by our beloved modern hasidic rebbe Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.
Through the generosity and graciousness of local rabbis, cantors, and congregations, we had always borrowed Torahs for our celebrations. On Shavuot 5751, June 1991, we made a commitment to find a Torah Scroll and give her a home.
At noon on Friday, September 6, 1991, I, Stan Levy, Rabbi for B’nai Horin, received Scroll 518, a few hours before the last Shabbat of 5751.
May we, B’nai Horin – Children of Freedom, be worthy of the precious legacy which you have entrusted to us, Torah Scroll 518 and the memory of the 6 million.
Yitgadal V’Yitkadash Sh’mey Rabah
Your all encompassing presence enhances and spiritually enriches our lives.
Want to learn more about our Torah and the other Torah scroll-holders? Click here: http://www.memorialscrollstrust.org