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May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Torah Scroll’

Torah of Ben Ish Chai Rescued in Covert Op

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

An ancient Torah scroll once belonging to the great Torah sage Ben Ish Chai has been rescued from war-torn Iraq, and made its way home to Israel’s beach-side community of Netanya on Tuesday.

One of the world’s oldest Torah scrolls still kosher for use, the 400 year-old Torah was liberated in a covert operation conducted with the help of US Armed Forces still stationed in Iraq. The unique scroll is printed on gawil – thick parchments not split during the construction of the scroll – and etched with large letters. It once served the community of the celebrated Baghdadi Rabbi Abdullah and his renowned disciple, Rabbi Yosef Chaim, who came to be known as the Ben Ish Chai.

Dr. Nissan Sharifi, attorney and chairman of the Be’er Chana synagogue in Netanya, explained to Israel’s Hidabrut website that he began his quest to rescue the precious scroll after representing some Jewish US Army soldiers who had immigrated to Israel. He began to hear stories from the Jewish-American soldiers about ancient Jewish manuscripts and books in the possession of the Jewish community of Baghdad, including the Torah scroll of the Ben Ish Chai. When he heard about the existential threat facing the dwindling Jewish community of Baghdad in the wake of the withdrawal of the US from Iraq, and understood the danger to the Jewish artifacts posed by angry rioters in a turbulent post-war Iraq, he decided to try to save the scroll, the second oldest scroll which is kosher for use in the world, after the 500 year-old scroll of Rabbi Isaac Abuahav, which is currently in the Galilean city of Tzfat.

Iraqi law makes removing artifacts relevant to the country difficult to accomplish. Sharifi would not go into detail about the rescue, but told Hidabrut that the original cylindrical case ensconcing the scroll was not salvaged – only the parchments arrived in Israel.

According to Sharifi, the small remaining Iraqi Jewish community in Baghdad supported the transfer of the scroll to his synagogue. Yom Kippur was the last time the scroll was used, when Jewish Army soldiers joined the 7 or 8 remaining elderly Baghdadi Jews to make a prayer quorum (minyan). In the possession of the community remain thousands of handwritten items, manuscripts, books, and tens of Torah scrolls, all of which are threatened by the somber reality of the vulnerability of the community resulting from the US Army’s withdrawal from the area.

The Torah was received in a festive ceremony at the Be’er Chana synagogue, which was established by Sharifi in the name of his mother, who was born in Baghdad. In attendance was Chief Rabbi of Tzfat Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, son of the late former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who was an advocate of the preservation of Iraqi Jewish traditions and a student of the teachings of the Ben Ish Chai.

In the early 1900s, as many as 300,000 Jews lived in Baghdad. A major anti-Semitic upswing following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 eventually resulted in rescue Operation Ezra and Nechemiah(named after the prophets who led the Jews of Babylon to the land of Israel), which evacuated up to 120,000 Jews from Iraq in 1 year, leaving just 6,000 by the end of 1952.

Torah Dedication In Historic Krakow Fulfills Late Rabbi’s Wish

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

      The following article,by Tamar Runyan, originally appeared on Chabad.org

 

     Among the missions left unfinished after the passing of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Yossie Raichik was the completion of a Torah Scroll for a synagogue bearing his ancestor’s name. That changed last week as his widow, Dina Raichik, joined a procession of hundreds of singing celebrants through the streets of Krakow, Poland’s historic Jewish quarter, to finally welcome the Holy Scroll in the centuries-old Rema Synagogue.

 

     “This is completing a circle,” said Dina Raichik. “It was something he wanted, something he started and didn’t finish.”

 

      When the late Raichik passed, he left behind Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl, a rescue organization founded in 1989 that has brought thousands of children from the fallout-stricken region of Ukraine to medical treatment and safety in Israel. He also left behind the Torah project, which he began after learning that the Rema Synagogue – named after Rabbi Moshe Isserles, the 16th-century sage whose glosses appear embedded in the text of the Code of Jewish Law – was without a kosher Torah Scroll of its own.

 

     “It can’t be that the Rema Synagogue doesn’t have a Torah,” he told Dina Raichik, herself a descendent of the famed Isserles.

 

     Two years ago, the late Raichik met Rabbi Eliezer Gurary, the new director of Chabad of Krakow, at the resting place of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, in Cambria Heights, N.Y. In the course of their conversation, Raichik promised to commission a Torah for the historic synagogue.

 

    A couple of months later, he accompanied a group of friends from Argentina for a ceremony marking the start of the lengthy process of writing the holy scroll.

 

 

Dedicated in memory of Rabbi Yossie Raichik, who passed away last year at the age of 55, the Torah Scroll rests in the Ark of the centuries-old Rema Synagogue.

 

     “The intention was to complete it this year,” said his widow, but Raichik was too ill to travel.

 

      He passed away in September at the age of 55 as 15 sick children from Chernobyl flew to Israel, his organization’s 82nd rescue mission. In the midst of her grief, Dina Raichik pressed forward with the Torah project, working with the same group from Argentina, who wanted to dedicate the scroll to Raichik’s memory.

 

    “Yossie dedicated his life to rescuing thousands of children,” said Rabbi Yossi Swerdlov of Jerusalem, who has taken over the day-to-day responsibilities of running Children of Chernobyl. “He was somebody who gave himself to everybody he met.

 

     “He connected to people in an unbelievable way,” added Swerdlov, who was in Krakow for the Torah-dedication ceremony. “Everyone felt he was one of their closest friends.”

 

New Life

 

     Noting the tremendous turnout at last week’s ceremony and parade – which began at the Izaak Synagogue, a 10-minute walk from the Rema – Gurary said that the dedication was a fitting tribute to Raichik. It was also a demonstration of the resiliency of Krakow’s Jewish community, once destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.

 

   “There is still life here,” he told the celebrants, many of whom were Jewish teenagers participating in the annual March of the Living program. “The Holocaust will not conquer us.”

     The event was local Yakov Kovalsky’s first Torah dedication.

 

   “It was great,” said the 35-year-old native of eastern Galicia. “This was very important for the community.”

 

   “The community is very excited,” echoed Gurary, who reported a 40-percent increase in attendance at Shabbat services days after the dedication. “People came specifically to see the new Torah being used.”

 

 

Hundreds of people crowd a Krakow street as they march with a new Torah Scroll to the historic Rema Synagogue. (Chabad.org)

 

 

      “For the Jewish visitors, it was very important to see that there is still Jewish life here,” added Kovalsky.

 

    That rebirth can be seen in a host of activities taking place in the historic Jewish quarter, where Gurary and his wife, Esther Gurary, coordinate holiday programs, Torah classes, a kosher food shop and Shabbat meals and services.

 

    “There is something special here,” Gurary said after the ceremony. “And the Torah has given everyone new vitality.”

Torah Dedication In Historic Krakow Fulfills Late Rabbi’s Wish

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

      The following article,by Tamar Runyan, originally appeared on Chabad.org


 


     Among the missions left unfinished after the passing of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Yossie Raichik was the completion of a Torah Scroll for a synagogue bearing his ancestor’s name. That changed last week as his widow, Dina Raichik, joined a procession of hundreds of singing celebrants through the streets of Krakow, Poland’s historic Jewish quarter, to finally welcome the Holy Scroll in the centuries-old Rema Synagogue.

 

     “This is completing a circle,” said Dina Raichik. “It was something he wanted, something he started and didn’t finish.”

 

      When the late Raichik passed, he left behind Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl, a rescue organization founded in 1989 that has brought thousands of children from the fallout-stricken region of Ukraine to medical treatment and safety in Israel. He also left behind the Torah project, which he began after learning that the Rema Synagogue – named after Rabbi Moshe Isserles, the 16th-century sage whose glosses appear embedded in the text of the Code of Jewish Law – was without a kosher Torah Scroll of its own.

 

     “It can’t be that the Rema Synagogue doesn’t have a Torah,” he told Dina Raichik, herself a descendent of the famed Isserles.

 

     Two years ago, the late Raichik met Rabbi Eliezer Gurary, the new director of Chabad of Krakow, at the resting place of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, in Cambria Heights, N.Y. In the course of their conversation, Raichik promised to commission a Torah for the historic synagogue.

 

    A couple of months later, he accompanied a group of friends from Argentina for a ceremony marking the start of the lengthy process of writing the holy scroll.

 

 


Dedicated in memory of Rabbi Yossie Raichik, who passed away last year at the age of 55, the Torah Scroll rests in the Ark of the centuries-old Rema Synagogue.

 

     “The intention was to complete it this year,” said his widow, but Raichik was too ill to travel.

 

      He passed away in September at the age of 55 as 15 sick children from Chernobyl flew to Israel, his organization’s 82nd rescue mission. In the midst of her grief, Dina Raichik pressed forward with the Torah project, working with the same group from Argentina, who wanted to dedicate the scroll to Raichik’s memory.

 

    “Yossie dedicated his life to rescuing thousands of children,” said Rabbi Yossi Swerdlov of Jerusalem, who has taken over the day-to-day responsibilities of running Children of Chernobyl. “He was somebody who gave himself to everybody he met.

 

     “He connected to people in an unbelievable way,” added Swerdlov, who was in Krakow for the Torah-dedication ceremony. “Everyone felt he was one of their closest friends.”

 

New Life


 


     Noting the tremendous turnout at last week’s ceremony and parade – which began at the Izaak Synagogue, a 10-minute walk from the Rema – Gurary said that the dedication was a fitting tribute to Raichik. It was also a demonstration of the resiliency of Krakow’s Jewish community, once destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.

 

   “There is still life here,” he told the celebrants, many of whom were Jewish teenagers participating in the annual March of the Living program. “The Holocaust will not conquer us.”


     The event was local Yakov Kovalsky’s first Torah dedication.

 

   “It was great,” said the 35-year-old native of eastern Galicia. “This was very important for the community.”

 

   “The community is very excited,” echoed Gurary, who reported a 40-percent increase in attendance at Shabbat services days after the dedication. “People came specifically to see the new Torah being used.”

 

 


Hundreds of people crowd a Krakow street as they march with a new Torah Scroll to the historic Rema Synagogue. (Chabad.org)

 

 

      “For the Jewish visitors, it was very important to see that there is still Jewish life here,” added Kovalsky.

 

    That rebirth can be seen in a host of activities taking place in the historic Jewish quarter, where Gurary and his wife, Esther Gurary, coordinate holiday programs, Torah classes, a kosher food shop and Shabbat meals and services.

 

    “There is something special here,” Gurary said after the ceremony. “And the Torah has given everyone new vitality.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/torah-dedication-in-historic-krakow-fulfills-late-rabbis-wish/2009/05/13/

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