Sifre Torah Dedicated/Installed at Mercer County Holocaust/Genocide Resource Center at Mercer County Community College

10-22-04

Mercer County Community College hosted a ceremony on Oct. 18 to dedicate a historic torah scroll donated by Steven E. Some and Adam Kaufman. The scroll was installed at The Mercer County Holocaust-Genocide Resource Center, located in the library at the college’s West Windsor campus.

The ceremonies, at the college’s Conference Center, were planned to coincide with Simchat Torah, a holiday celebrating the torah as a gift from God. Mr. Some said torah scrolls are usually donated during Simchat.

The program included remarks from Mr. Phil Kirschner, chairman of the State Commission on Holocaust Education, Mr. Steven Some, member of the State Commission on Holocaust Education, Rabbis Keith Zakheim, David Wisnia and Eric Wisnia, MCCC President Robert Rose, and County Executive Brian Hughes.

According to Mr. Some, “The Torah will be a powerful educational tool for students and teachers as they learn about the Holocaust and the Jews of Europe and the former Czechoslovakia in those tragic years before and during the Second World War, 1933 to 1945.”

The scroll will be on permanent display in a glass case designed and constructed by Scott Spiezle and Frank Spiezle of Spiezle Architects. The case’s inscription will read: “This Sifre Torah, which dates from the middle of the Nineteenth Century from the village of Susice, in the former Czechoslovakia, is donated to the Mercer County Holocaust-Genocide Resource Center at Mercer County Community College by Steven E. Some and Adam Kaufman.”

MCCC President Robert Rose said, “The college is honored to be able to house this historic Torah, so meaningful to Jewish history and the history of the holocaust. This will be a poignant learning tool for the community.”

The scroll is one of the 1,564 rescued from destruction in the Second World War. Torah scrolls and other Jewish artifacts had been looted from the Jewish communities of Bohemia and Moravia by the Nazis. The artifacts were sent to Prague, where the Nazis planned to put them in a museum to a “destroyed” race. After the war the scrolls lay piled in a Prague synagogue for over 20 years.

In 1963 custodianship was given to the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust at Westminster Synagogue in London. Each scroll was inspected and catalogued by an expert, and a record was made of the origin, age, physical condition of its components, and the state of the text and any defects therein. The scrolls are distributed throughout the world wherever they can be of most service.

The Mercer County Holocaust/Genocide Resource Center, now in its second year, promotes resources for holocaust education and awareness, and houses books and technological aids to assist public and private schools in planning courses of study on the holocaust. The center was made possible through collaboration between the college, the County of Mercer, and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education.

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