The holy book survived World War II and found a home at the Brite Divinity School Library.
by Tracy Sterling Bristol Photo by Leo Wesson
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Topics: object lesson
by Tracy Sterling Bristol
Photo by Leo Wesson
This Sephardic torah is part of the Lehman Collection in the Brite Divinity School Library. Estimated between 75 to 100 years old, it is thought to be one of the more than 1,500 torahs archived at the Jewish Museum in Prague during World War II. Many of the Jews who led this effort perished in Hitler’s camps.
In 1963, Czech cultural officials asked a London art dealer to help find new homes for the collection. London’s Westminster Synagogue created the Memorial Scrolls Committee to salvage the scrolls and share them with synagogues throughout the world. Torahs too damaged for ritual use were equally treasured as reminders of the Holocaust.
How did one of these torahs wind up at TCU?
German-born Dr. Israel Otto Lehman was 27 years old when he was ordained as a rabbi in Berlin in 1939. Lehman fled Nazi Germany to serve as a chaplain in England. His research in Hebrew manuscripts brought him to the U.S., where he was appointed curator of special collections at Hebrew Union College, and where Dr. W. David Nelson, TCU’s first Judaic Studies professor, met him. Lehman travelled extensively, amassing and cataloguing rare books and Judaica. After Lehman’s death in 2002, his collection of 10,000 books and manuscripts was acquired by TCU’s Brite Divinity School Library.
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