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10/09/2015 05:40:05 PM


Congregation Shevet Achim’s newest Sefer Torah has arrived just in time for Rosh Hashanah. Mercer Island will be the Torah’s first home since its previous community – in Lithuania – was destroyed in WWII.

Richard Gilmore and Marc Silverman, long-time members of the congregation and regulars at its minyan (daily prayer services), gifted the new Torah.

The Sefer was retrieved from a cache of Torahs hidden from the Nazis who gleefully destroyed Sifrei Torahs along with the communities, which cherished them. The Lithuanian Government passed along the hidden Torahs to Israel for restoration ten years ago. According to Rabbi Shmuel Rosenfeld who restored Shevet Achim’s scroll, many of the rescued Torahs were unusable due to exposure to mold or other corrosive elements.

“I feel that [your] Torah talks to me,” Rosenfeld wrote the benefactors from Jerusalem, “[it] tells me the suffering it went through.... and I tell the Torah, you will be revived and brought to a safe home that will honor, respect and most of all heed your words!”

Few acts of tzedakah (charity) in Judaism are as powerful as commissioning the completion of a Sefer Torah, which must be handwritten according to the strictest standards. To restore an all-but-lost Torah, a survivor of the Holocaust, is, needless to say, special.

Richard Gilmore dedicated the new/old Sefer Torah in honor of his late parents and Marc Silverman dedicated it in honor of his deceased father and uncle.

Please join Congregation Shevet Achim in observing the High Holidays for services in its new home on Island Crest Way in the center of Mercer Island. The congregation will “officially” welcome its restored Lithuanian Torah later this fall. 

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