Gala Parade Escorts Two Torah Scrolls From Russia
To New Home at F.R.E.E. Brighton Beach Synagogue
Hachnasas Sefer Torah to Be Celebrated in Brighton Beach
- Hamodia


By Daniel Keren

Click here to see a photo gallery of the event

The restoration of two ancient Russian Sifrei Torah to regular use in a Brighton Beach shul will be the cause of a joyous Hachnasas Sefer Torah celebration on Sunday, according to Rabbi Yosef Y. Okunov, Program Director of FREE (Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe). FREE maintains twelve shuls throughout the Metropolitan region to serve recent Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Sunday's gala Torah parade will begin in front of the Washington Mutual Bank at Brighton-Beach Avenue near the comer of Coney Island Avenue at 11 am. The 45-minute celebration is expected to attract approximately 2,000 participants from the Brooklyn community and surrounding neighborhoods.

The two sifrei Torah will be accompanied by music. Police will close off the parade route as the celebrants accompany the restored Torah scrolls to their new home at the Hebrew Alliance/FREE shul at 2915 Brighton 6 Street.

Once the sifrei Torah reach their new permanent home, members of the community will be treated to an inspiring performance of the M Generation Russian Boys Choir under the direction of Boris Rokuter. Also performing will be Chazzan Zalman Baumgarten.

The main speaker will be Rabbi David Hollander, shlita, Rav of the Hebrew Alliance, an American kehilla in Brighton Beach that shares its facility with FREE. Also speaking will be Rabbi Mayer Okunov, chairman of FREE. A reception in the simcha hall of the shul will follow and is open to the public.

The smaller of the two sifrei Torah was donated to the shul by the family in memory of their father, Avrohom Dovidov, a"h, who served as the gabbai in a shul in Riga.

Following the German invasion of Latvia, Avrohom Dovidov fled to Russia with the 150 year-old Torah scroll. In the Communist land where Yiddishkeit was outlawed, Reb Avrohom hid the sefer Torah, taking it only out for secret prayer services on Shabbos.

The second sefer Torah was also recovered from the former Soviet Union and is being donated through the generosity of the Schuster family. It, too, followed a dangerous path through post-Holocaust Europe prior to arriving in America.

Rabbi Hershel Okunov, Rav of the Brighton Beach FREE shul, said that more than $10,000 was raised by members of the Russian Jewish community to help repair . the sifrei Torah and make them kosher for use in their new Brooklyn home. This unique event is cause for celebration for the broader Jewish community.

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A report of the story in Russian

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  A Second Simchas Torah in Brighton Beach (Yidish)
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