He has been to Shabbat dinner, lit the menorah and he broke matzah with friends at a Passover seder. This Valentine’s Day, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined a club that even many Jews don’t belong to — he helped complete a new Torah scroll.
The Jewish Home for the Aging has never had a Torah it could call its own. Since the home first opened in 1912, synagogues or individuals have donated Siferei Torah to the senior-living community, but the scrolls were often old and tarnished, with faded letters or finger smudges on the parchment. These Torahs are considered pasul, or unfit for public reading, but they were the only ones available to the home for religious services.
Chabad of Thousand Oaks was honored to receive a Torah, generously donated by Rabbi Mordechai and Ethel Bryski in memory of their parents (great-grandparents of Rabbi Chaim Bryski, Rabbi of Chabad of Thousand Oaks), survivors of the Holocaust. This scroll was rescued from the Holocaust as well, and was painstakingly restored before coming to its permanent home at the Thousand Oaks Jewish Center.
In a knowledge world ruled by books and pages and digitized memory, why do Jews hold onto the scroll? Could it be that rolled along together somewhere in our minds with the love of Torah is the love of scroll?
A Montreal resident claims that a Torah she loaned to a local senior home has illegally ended up in a Southern California synagogue. And now she's on the hunt to find it.