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Rose to rededicate restored Holocaust Torah scroll

The father and son team of Sefer on Site, Torah scribesOn Dec. 14, Rose Medical Center will engage in tikkun olam – “repairing the world” – by rededicating its newly restored Holocaust Torah.

About 16 years ago, Rose acquired on permanent loan a Holocaust Torah with a remarkable history.

Handwritten by a scribe 120 to 150 years ago, the special parchment contains the Five Books of Moses and was the ritual Judaic focal point of the village of Susice in Czechoslovakia.

During WW II, the vast majority of Jewish sacred objects were desecrated, burned or obliterated by the Nazis. The few remaining ritual treasures were put in a warehouse in Prague, in which the sacred items deteriorated greatly.

Miraculously, many of these items survived the war. Following WW II, the Torah scrolls were purchased by a British businessman and philanthropist and transported to London.

These Torah scrolls have been preserved by a trust and distributed throughout the globe. Rose is one of the few places in the world to house such a magnificent piece of Jewish history.

Throughout its journey from Czechoslovakia to London to Denver, the sacred parchment has been in dire need of restoration.

With water stains and discoloration from its days in the warehouse, letters have faded and been chipped away, and the sacred text is deteriorating each time it is rolled, as the scroll has taken on a sandpaper-like quality.

For 16 years, Rose’s Holocaust Torah, located in the Charles C. and Esther Ila Winocur Chapel, has been used in services and with patients, families, physicians, employees and volunteers for strength, comfort and spiritual connection.

Additionally, it has been utilized all over the metro Denver community and has been shared with Jewish organizations as an educational and spiritual tool.

This March, Rose decided to restore the Torah, beginning to end, in memory of Alan Laff, the former chair of the Rose advisory board who passed away unexpectedly last March.

“We have been waiting for a special time and purpose to restore the sacred Torah scroll to its rightful glory and magnificence,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Kaye, director of chaplaincy services at Rose.

“There is no better way to honor Alan Laff and his family’s three generations of service to Rose than to dedicate our Torah restoration project in his honor.

“The restored scroll will be a living tribute to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, as well as an educational and spiritual focal point for the entire Denver community. This opportunity is a privilege and honor for us.”

Rose selected Sofer On Site, a father-and-son team based in Miami, to complete the full restoration.

The Torah will have undergone nine months of restoration by six scribes, who will fill in nearly every one of the more than 304,000 letters of the Torah.

To maintain the original quality of the Torah scroll, the scribes will learn the Hebrew calligraphy of the first scribe, recopy the letters, words and phrases in his exact style.

Once completed, the Torah scroll will be dedicated in Laff’s memory at the Rose Medical Center community Chanukah celebration on Dec. 14. Information: (303) 316-6469.

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