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A History of the Torahs of Temple Judea

Prepared February, 2019 under the supervision of Senior Rabbi Judith L. Siegal
This document updates and corrects errors in the Torah Report dated June, 2014.

The entity now known as Temple Judea of Coral Gables began as The Coral Gables Jewish Center in 1948.  It was originally located on Palermo Avenue, Coral Gables.  In 1964 Temple Judea bought the property on Grenada Avenue it now occupies and moved into the new facility on 1966.  At that time Temple Judea owned four Sifrei Torah (Four Holy Torahs).  The Torahs had been donated by Temple members beginning in 1948, the time of the founding of the Coral Gables Jewish Center.   

The Torah given by Sam and Ann Schulefand in 1948 is Judea Torah #9.  It was  written in BET YOSEPH script about 1915 in Poland  [SOS# 14029] It is one of the four moved from Palermo.

The Torah marked as Judea #3 was donated by Sam and Mildred Weissel and Sons and welcomed by Judea on December 24, 1950.  This Torah was written in ARIZAL script about 1925 in Russia; [SOS# 14023].  This too was moved from Palermo to Judea’s present home.

In 1982 Judea’s archivist, Ada Jaffer, discovered that there was a Torah missing.  She spent the next two years in an exhaustive, but unsuccessful, search for the missing Torah.  It was concluded that Rabbi Mordechai Podet (1962-1964) had lent a Torah to a new congregation, but had made no record of which congregation or any indication as to when, or if, it would be returned.  The presumption at that time that the missing Torah was one of the two given by the List/Glaser families. 

Vera and Albert List, in honor of Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Glaser 
December 26, 1953

Mrs. Rose Glaser, in memory of her Husband Abraham Glaser
March 15, 1959

It is believed that the Torah now identified as Judea #8 is the surviving Scroll.  It bears SOS # 14028 and was written in BET YOSEPH script about 1930 in Poland.  It made the move from Palermo to Judea’s present home.

The Torah identified as Judea #7, which bears SOS # 14027 was donated by Mr. And Mrs. Boris Etingoff and Sons on December 24, 1950.  It was written about 1915 in Czechoslovakia in ARIZAL script.  This is the fourth Scroll to move to Judea’s new home.

On April 14, 1967 Temple Judea received a Torah from Abraham and Eva Helfgott, (grandparents of Sheila Freed) to mark their 50th Anniversary (Judea #1, SOS #14021).  This Torah was written in BET YOSEPH script about 1915 in Germany.

The Holocaust Torahs

In 1942, as a result of instructions sent by Dr. Stein of the Jὓdische Kiltusgemeinde in Prague, the communities of Bohemia and Moravia packed their Sifrei Torah, gold and silver filials, books and textiles and sent them to the Jewish Museum in Prague.  When the Communists took over the government of the country in 1948, Jewish communal life was again stifled, and most synagogues were closed. Their possessions went to the newly refounded  Jewish Museum of Prague. The scrolls were transferred and warehoused in the ruined synagogue at Michle outside Prague where they remained until they came to London in 1964.

The Torahs were purchased by the Westminster Synagogue, Kent House, Rutland Gardens, London.  The  Memorial Scrolls Trust (MST) was created to maintain, restore and distribute the Torahs.  Temple Judea has had the honor of housing two of these Scrolls.

On May 20, 1983 Judea received a Scroll from MST.  Title to the Torah did not pass to Judea, as it was still owned by MST and Judea had it on loan from MST.  The loan had been arranged by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Hollander.  On January 19, 2017 this Torah was returned to MST, as Temple Judea had received a second MST Torah, and MST rules prohibit a Synagogue from having two of their Torahs. 

The second Holocaust Torah from MST was received in 2007 and bears their serial number 964 and SOS#’s 4194 and 14025.  On December 7, 2007 it was formally welcomed into the Judea family.  It was originally the Torah of Dobris, in what is now the Czech Republic.  It was written in Czechoslovakia about 1895 in BET YOSEPH script.  Some three hundred Judea families participated in the restoration of this Torah, which was done under the supervision of Rabbi Gedaliah Druin.

Rabbi Druin is a member of Sofer of Site (SOS), a group of Sofarim (scribes) who maintain, repair and write new Torahs.  They are the Miami agent for MST and have repaired Judea’s Torahs.

Torat Shalom was welcomed into Temple Judea on June 11, 1995.  It was used as a fund raising mechanism and which raised over $300,000 over two years.  This money is the foundation of what is today the Reserve Fund. Torat Shalom was written in BET YOSEPH script about 1930 in Lithuania [SOS # 14022].  In February, 2019, this Torah was dedicated to the family of Albert and Edna Jacobson.

When Temple Shir Ami joined Temple Judea in 1997, a Torah came with the members.  This Torah, Judea #6 was written in BET YOSEPH script about 1930 in Lithuania [SOS # 14026]. In February, 2019 this Torah was dedicated to Stuart Gitlitz and his family. 

In July, 2014 Rabbi Menachim Bialo of SOS examined all the Torahs and determined that eight of the nine Torahs then at Judea were in need of repair.  The Building on Traditions Campaign was commenced in 2015 to raise the necessary funds and enhance the Endowment Funds.  In 2016 the repairs were commenced and completed.  Rabbi Bialo was then able to certify all of the Judea Torahs as Kosher, that is ritually pure.  He provided the information as to the age and origins of the Torahs. 

Sun, June 16 2024 10 Sivan 5784