Photo Credit: Courtesy, Migdal Ohr
Rabbi Grossman receives the parchmen from Mr. Dotan

On a day in which the cruelties of the Nazis and the devastation of the Holocaust is uppermost of the minds of the People of Israel, there are yet numerous examples of how we are shown there are sparks of hope among the ashes.

Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Dean of the Migdal Ohr Institutions, was presented with one such example. The rabbi sat in his home in Migdal Ha’emek in bewilderment, re-examining the piece of Torah parchment he was given. Cut by a Nazi almost 70 years ago from a Torah scroll in an Eastern European synagogue, the sacred parchment was used by the Luftwaffe officer as a wrapping for his ID card during World War II.


How did Rabbi Grossman come into the possession of such a unique and shocking piece of history?

 Moti Dotan, the Head of the Lower Galilee Regional Council, had recently returned from a ceremony honoring of the 25th anniversary of the twin cities pact between the Regional Council and the Hanover district in Germany.

Dotan was approached at the conclusion of the event by a member of the Hanover District Council. “My father, Werner Herzig, died a few weeks ago,” said the man. “Before his death he said he wanted to share with me a secret. He told me he had fought in World War II and told me about his involvement in those awful crimes, such as his participation in the burning of a synagogue on the Russian front. ‘It’s important for me to tell you this, because today there are those who don’t believe that it happened’ he told me.”

 Dotan relates that Herzig junior gave him the ID document and parchment and asked him to locate a holy man in the Galilee and present it to him. “I thought of the holy work that Rabbi Grossman does, and that he was the most suitable person to receive the document and parchment,” says Dotan. “When I came to him to give him the document, I shared with him the story. As he held the parchment tears started to flow from his eyes,” recalls Dotan. He said that Rabbi Grossman symbolizes to him all that is good in Judaism, and will make proper use of the item.

 Rabbi Grossman held the piece of parchment and read from the text. The parchment is from the Book of Deuteronomy, in the weekly portion of “Ki Tavo.”

He read: “…and distress which your enemies will inflict upon you, in your cities… Then the Lord will bring upon you and your offspring uniquely horrible plagues, terrible and unyielding plagues, and evil and unyielding sicknesses… Also, the Lord will bring upon you every disease and plague which is not written in this Torah scroll, to destroy you. And you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of the heaven for multitude” (Deuteronomy 28, 57-62). These verses are known as the verses of admonishment.

Rabbi Grossman is convinced that this is a “Supreme message of Divine providence. After 60 years, this document arrives in Israel, wrapped in these words of scolding, and is calling on us ‘to awaken.’ After all, the German could have cut the parchment from any of the Five Books of Moses, and he specifically cut out the section that speaks suffering, servitude and then of redemption,” he said.

Rabbi Grossman has shown the ID book and parchment to young people, and tells of the great excitement it causes. “It’s a tangible object, which you can see with your own eyes. You can see here the embodiment of evil; how after the destruction of a synagogue, this man had the audacity to enter and cut from the Torah scroll, only because he thought that the parchment was a suitable way to preserve his document.”

Rabbi Grossman has vowed to continue to visit schools and young people with the document and to share this awe-striking story with them.



  1. “It’s a tangible object, which you can see with your own eyes. You can see here the embodiment of evil; how after the destruction of a synagogue, this man had the audacity to enter and cut from the Torah scroll, only because he thought that the parchment was a suitable way to preserve his document.”

    As a soldier, I find this totally plausible. Read some American soldiers’ and Marines’ accounts of WWII souvenir-hunting and appropriation of found goods.

  2. Cody is not anti-Semitic at all. He is just bringing up the uncomfortable truth. We the Jews have made an art out of lamenting over our history, and a miserable failure out of learning from it.

    Holocaust didn’t happen out of nowhere. The German and other European Jews were very much a part of the integrated mainstream of their countries. They felt more German/European than Jewish. In fact, to many their Jewishness was not more than a cumbersome nuisance. They wanted to be “just like all other normal people”.

    Very much like for the majority of the US Jews, whose post perfunctory Bar/Bat Mitzvot Jewish practice is limited to the occasional consumption of gefulte fish, and who voted the most anti-Israel president into the office – second time. There are as many very active Jews in BDS and other anti-Israel movements, as there are non-Jews. Many feel the only Jewish state – the State of Israel – is a discomforting disturbance they can very much do without. They are very comfortable in their NY, LA and other cosy places in between, just like “all other normal people”.

    To me, if they don’t change their ways, they will be guilty of another Holocaust. Anyone, who fails to understand and appreciate who they are and fulfill their purpose, becomes redundant and obsolete.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone and am sorry, if the above shocks some out of their peaceful existence.

  3. David Miskevich
    I do indeed agree with you…perhaps I was a bit too quick….however unlike the “majority” you refer to…do you know them all??? I am very comfortable with my Jewishness , embrace it, learn from it and above a PRACTICE IT………

  4. You can play with anything, not TORAH, The Word of God is alive. Never play with it. LORD you are the Judge. Let peace be with our people who were affected. Amen,

  5. Nina Green :

    The polls, the Jewish voting in the last elections and the general sense one picks up from the fellow Jews lead to sad conclusions.

    Yes, many stick to some token practice, to the extent which doesn’t disturb the comfort zone. After all, what’s harm from a good meal and a “Next year in Jerusalem” declaration, which is not meant to be fulfilled? Oh, yes, a check to the Israel Fund and a free Taglit trip for a kid – what a nice way to feel Jewish!

    Well, being Jewish is not about being comfortable. Void of understanding of the spiritual significance, without attachment and loyalty to the Land of Israel it’s meaningless and doomed. Sadly, many US Jews maintain that they do not associate their Jewishness with either Israel or the spiritual component.

    Nina, we are a a dwindling minority. We, the Jews, like any other nation, have our unique purpose. If unfulfilled, we become obsolete and extict, akin to a part of human body, which does not function according to its’ purpose. History has been showing us the proof. Time to heed the message. The European Jewry had their own comfort zone and it was an illusion. Good to remember on this Day of Rememberness.

  6. Coincidence? Many would think so. The scrap concerns the afflictions of those who turn away. But the rest of the story is one of return.

    Many think that we are seeing the final days of the return to Hashem, when mashiach will be revealed, and will restore everything. Gan Eden on earth is already here, and is growing.

    Are there really any coincidences?

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