25 Torahs Rescued From NOLA

A transdenominational delegation of Louisiana rabbis and Federation employees braved the havok wrought by Hurricane Katrina to rescue 25 torah scrolls and other religious objects from synagogues ravaged or near-ravaged by the storm.

The rescue, organized by Richard Lipsey of B’nai Israel and leaders of the Jewish federations of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, was attempted only after they were assured of the safety of storm victims in the area, Bergadine said.
The rescuers also enlisted the help of Rabbi David Saperstein, the social justice director of the Union for Reform Judaism, who had come to Baton Rouge from Washington, D.C. to offer financial and emotional help.
They recovered the sacred objects from Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation, a Jewish day school in Metairie, Touro Synagogue and Temple Sinai Reform Congregation in New Orleans.
“The torah scroll is the central, sacred object of Judaism,” Zamek said. “It’s not a book, but a living teacher.”
The scrolls contain the five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
“Leaving them alone in an empty synagogue is an unbearable thought,” Zamek said.
Because the scrolls also contain the name of God, worn torahs must be buried, not discarded.
“They are representations of God’s love,” Bergadine said. “It’s important for the congregants (of those synagogues) to know that the torahs are safe. It’s that emotional connection.”

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2 thoughts on “25 Torahs Rescued From NOLA

  1. I just commented on the article regarding the shelter that was closed at Temple B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge. Richard Lipsey, who is mentioned in this article about saving the Torahs is head of the Temple Board in Baton Rouge. He spearheaded closing the shelter and ousting Rabbi Weinstein. Richard Lipsey is no hero. He may as well be a member of the KKK.

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