Gala Parade Escorts Two Torah Scrolls From Russia
To New Home at F.R.E.E. Brighton Beach Synagogue
Scroll Survivors
- New York Post

October 25, 2004
By LORENA MONGELLI and NEIL GRAVES

Click here to see a photo gallery of the event

October 25, 2004 -- Two freshly restored Torahs ? survivors of the Holocaust and Soviet persecution ? were officially rededicated yesterday at the Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe Synagogue in Brighton Beach.

A procession of about 1,000, led by musicians and dancers, wound four blocks through the heart of the Russian Jewish community in Brooklyn. They bore the sacred scrolls under an ornate ceremonial canopy.

One of the Torahs, dating back to at least the 1860s, belonged to the Dovidov family of Riga, Latvia. The Nazis had burned down the synagogue of patriarch Abraham Dovidov during the 1941 invasion, but Dovidov kept the synagogue's Torah hidden from the Germans in a closet. He brought it out only for Sabbath ceremonies.

Dovidov fled to Russia but returned to Riga after the war, only to face a Soviet occupation there "that made it dangerous to show you were a practicing Jew," said Rabbi Hershel Okunov, vice president of the FREE Synagogue.

Descendents eventually brought the heirloom scrolls to America with them after Abraham Dovidov died nearly15 years ago.

"Our Torah has found its home," said Senya Dovidov, a one-time shoe-factory worker in Latvia and the son of Abraham. "We can walk in the streets here with the Torah, and we don't have to be afraid of anybody."

The other Torah, purchased by Okunov six months ago from a private source, had a similar experience of survival amid persecution in the Ukraine during World War II, organizers said.

"The Torahs are survivors," said Rabbi Shmuel Butman, director of the Lubavitch youth organization. "The reason we make such a big deal of rededication of these two Torahs are they represent the survival of the Jewish people. We overcame, and so have these Torahs."

It took three months of painstaking labor by hand to restore the parchments, a process that included the darkening and sharpening of letters.

"Every letter on the handwritten parchment has to be in perfect order to be used in the synagogue," said Okunov.

Okunov said more than $10,000 had to be raised for the restoration.

Holocaust survivor Fira Stukelman, 71, said the day was special for her.

"I'm very proud," said Stukelman, who was a pre-teen during the war. "This is an unbelievable event.''

 

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 Scroll Survivors
New York Post
 Moving Scripture
USA Today

 Hidden Torah finds new home
Washington Times

День Торы в Бруклине
A report of the story in Russian

 A second Simchas Torah in Brighton Beach (Yidish)
Algemeiner Journal

  A Second Simchas Torah in Brighton Beach (Yidish)
Algemeiner Journal

Прикоснуться к Торе (Russian)
Russkaya Reklama

Тора нашла свой дом (Russian)
Evreysky Mir

Torah Scrolls' New Home
The Jewish Week

Hidden Torah finds new home
Kfar Chabad Magazine

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