Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Holocaust Torah and the Stories It Tells

This is simply a magnificent essay. A Jewish story that  elucidates the importance of memory, of respecting one's parents, of living and remembering Jewishly. No wonder antisemites hate us. They are jealous of all this goodness. And so they should be.

Read the whole thing. 

A taste:

"There were lots of things I knew about Mr. Friedman, and many I didn’t. One fact I thought I understood was that he’s always been a man of ordinary means. I’d seen his small apartment, and I’d asked him about his life once he moved to Chicago."

“I worked for a candle manufacturer,” he had told me. Once, when I’d asked him why he didn’t visit Lilly’s relatives in Israel, he explained that he couldn’t afford the trip."

"So when I first heard about the Holocaust Torah, I thought I’d misunderstood."

“Who’s sponsoring the Torah?” I asked."

"I had participated in many campaigns to raise money for new Torah scrolls. Torah scrolls are painstakingly hand-written by scribes, using special hand-made ink and parchment. It typically takes a scribe a year of full-time work to complete a Torah. The cost is very high. New Torah scrolls can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. It’s customary to invite everyone in a community to help contribute to the cost, and the fundraising to complete such a work can take years."

"Mr. Friedman had commissioned a Sefer Torah, our rabbi announced—an entire scroll—and had paid for the undertaking himself, in memory of his parents and his wife. When congregants asked to be allowed to contribute, he asked our rabbi to explain that this wasn’t possible. (In the end, a “deal” was struck: congregants were able to contribute towards purchasing a silver crown for the Torah, but the scroll itself was Mr. Friedman’s alone.) The next time I saw Mr. Friedman—tidy as ever, his white hair brushed neatly back, wearing what looked like an old, much-mended suit and a tie—I asked him about the Torah scroll."

“It’s in memory of my parents and my wife,” he explained, nodding."

"I glanced at his frayed cuffs, his old, much-polished shoes."

“However did you save enough to pay for it?” I asked."

"Mr. Friedman fixed me with a piercing stare and enunciated slowly: “I’ve been saving for this Torah all my life.”