PAST REMNANTS AND FUTURE SPARKS

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PAST REMNANTS AND FUTURE SPARKS
Written and Photographed by Esther Tscholkowsky
Past remnants and future sparks
The Wolfson Jewish Museum of Heichal Shlomo
1. Survivor scroll
Shamai Keinan, director
of Heichal Shlomo,
in Jerusalem, shows
us one of the oldest
complete Torah scrolls
in the world. “Following
the expulsion from
Spain, this ancient scroll
traveled to Germany.
During World War
II, it was hidden in a
hospital attic and was
miraculously reclaimed
after the war by Mr.
Lobel. It is a metaphor
of Jewish survival.”
2. Rescued from the Churban “Our museum is a place where
all segments of Israeli society can come to discover and strengthen
their connection to the eternal Jewish Nation.” Mr. Keinan points out,
“Here is all that’s left of the destroyed seventeenth-century Popper
Synagogue of Krakow. After World War II, these beautiful aron kodesh
doors were given to us.”
3. Eternal light Before the war, the gabbai of
Warsaw’s Central Synagogue managed to bury two
precious menorahs. After the war, these menorahs
came into the hands of a righteous non-Jew. “She
later donated them to us because she wanted the
eternal light of the Jewish People to shine forever
in Jerusalem.”
4. From the depths of destruction Rescued from
the evil planners of the “Museum of an Extinct Race,” hundreds
of Sifrei Torah and thousands of sifrei kodesh were privately
flown to Israel. “Rabbi Bakshi-Doron gave us permission to
display these sections of holy scrolls to strengthen our brothers’
attachment to the living Jewish Nation,” Mr. Keinan explains.
5. Abandoned
and retrieved
“Six Prushim
synagogues served
Meah Shearim in the
1880s. This holy ark lay
abandoned in a rubbish
heap, abandoned by
its renovators who
felt it had no value,”
Mr. Keinan recalls.
“It was brought to
our attention, and
we immediately
dispatched a team
to recover and
reconstruct this
exquisite example
of Hungarian
synagogue art.”
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9. Where the Rabbi sat After migrating from Lomza, Poland, to Ireland, Rabbi
Yitzhak Herzog, ztz”l, finally settled in Eretz Yisrael. There he became Israel’s first
chief Ashkenazic rabbi, a post he held until his passing in 1958. The contents of his
private study, including his library, research papers, and a walking stick, were donated
to the museum by his late wife.
6. Rabbi Nachman’s letter “Here we see the only physical remnant of Rabbi
Nachman of Breslov’s handwriting. After a tragic personal loss, the Rebbe went into selfimposed exile and wrote to his followers about his arduous wanderings. Unfortunately
this may have contributed to his early demise at the age of thirty-eight,” Mr. Keinan
surmised.
8. Matching memories “Avraham
Raz was a Jew with a special hobby,” Mr.
Keinan explains. “These beautifully crafted
miniature models of European synagogues
were made after consulting with archival
photographs. Laboring patiently with tiny
matchsticks, the artist created these small
masterpieces, chronicling the lost treasures
of Europe’s synagogues.”
10. Ki MiTzion Leaving the museum,
we suddenly hear the angelic voices of
first-grade boys celebrating their traditional
siddur party. These children from the Shuvu
school in Jerusalem stand proudly before
a magnificent painting of Yerushalayim, a
living testimony to the rebirth of the Jewish
People in Eretz HaKodesh.
7. The Baal
Shem Tov’s
yerushah
We reach out as
if to touch this
remnant of the
Baal Shem Tov’s
tallis. Carefully
preserved under
glass, it is believed
to be part of the
saintly rabbi’s
yerushah, handed
down through the
generations and
donated by one of
his descendants.
Cut up and
divided among the
inheritors, leaving
this piece with its
mantle intact.
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