Torah search and rescue

The front page of today’s LA Times includes a half page photograph (reprinted here) and a story about Rabbi Isaac Leider’s Torah search-and-rescue mission at Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans. Leider, who worked with Zak’a doing sacramental clean-up in Israel, was in New Orleans ensuring that bodies of any Jewish dead were being handled according to religious law, and agreed to retrieve the shul’s Torah scrolls.

Leider and the rescue team climbed aboard a pair of rubber rafts with outboard motors and started toward the synagogue through flooded streets, barred in places by brambles and rusting cars. They drifted past stately homes, all flooded and empty, marked with red spray paint to indicate that they had been searched.
The synagogue was still swamped by 4 feet of water. Wearing waist-high rubber waders and a yarmulke, Leider followed the rescue squad into the synagogue and made his way to the sanctuary. The wooden door swung open, slowed by the water.
A high-water mark, at 7 feet, lined the walls. Leider inched his way through aisles filled with saturated seat cushions, broken glass, and overturned pews and podiums.
The rabbi waded to the front of the hall and opened the ark that held six Torah scrolls. He also found a white prayer shawl and the silver adornments for the scrolls. He cradled them in his arms and made his way toward the rafts.
“Out of six, only two are restorable,” Leider said. “I’m glad that we did this, but I’m disappointed. It’s bad to see them in this condition.”

Full story.

3 thoughts on “Torah search and rescue

  1. I saw that pic in the paper this morning and was gonna blog it on Jewlicious. But I’m like… you know, slow and lazy. So if I blog it now I’ll have to give you a hat tip. I love the LA Times though! All week here the only consistently reported stories have been Katrina, Iraq and whatever happens to be going on in Israel. It’s remarkable really. Oh look! Just noticed the American Apparel Ad! Talk about Jewel encrusted, huh?

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