A Holocaust Torah comes full circle with a grand celebration in Mamaroneck
by Musia Wilhelm
A celebration of grandeur with hundreds of Jews dancing on Boston Post Road took place this past Sunday.
What was the occasion? We were rejoicing at the completion of a Torah scroll.
One may ask, what is so special about this Torah that warranted such a celebratory event?
Let us go back a few years:
In 5766, Rabbi Mendel and Chana Silberstein established a Chabad center to enhance Jewish life in Larchmont and Mamaroneck. In addition to the many programs they offered, a small synagogue was formed.
Now, let us backtrack to the city Cimpulung-Bukovina, Romania. It is Yom Kippur day, the year is 5700:
Rabbi Moshe Yosef Rubin, Rabbi of this vibrant Jewish community since 5683, is leading his congregation in prayer on the holiest day of the year when local fascists storm the synagogue and demand that Rabbi Rubin sign a document accusing the Jews of the town of planning a revolt against the government. After the Rabbi’s firm refusal to sign at gunpoint, before the entire congregation, the Rabbi is dragged from shul, harnessed to a wagon in place of the horse, and forced to pull the wagon through the streets of town while being beaten along with his eighteen year-old son.
After this incident and the accursed anti-Semitic display, Rabbi Rubin was forced to flee his city, choosing to live in the city of Bucharest. Before leaving Cimpulung, he visited his synagogue one last time. Among the precious possessions he would take as he fled with his family, he chose several Sifrei Torah.
With the help of G-d, Rabbi Rubin and his family eluded deportation and survived the war living in Bucharest where Rabbi Rubin had established a Shul and a Yeshivah.
Yet as the communists took power in post-war Romania, the Rubins chose to rebuild their lives in America. Still holding the precious Torahs, they settled first in Long Beach, NY, where Rabbi Rubin served as a Rabbi, and then in Borough Park, Brooklyn, the Torahs were once again part of the vibrant life of a synagogue.
In 5731, Rabbi Rubin offered a Torah on loan to a newly established synagogue in Jerusalem. During the past 40 years, the Torah’s condition became fragile, eventually rendering it unfit for use in a synagogue.
Rabbi Moshe Yosef Rubin, of blessed memory, was Chana (Rubin) Silberstein's paternal grandfather.
Rabbi Rubin's family and Chabad of Larchmont and Mamaroneck took on the monumental task of restoring the Torah and bringing it back to life, with an honored home in their synagogue.
A Torah with such rich and sentimental history couldn’t just be driven to a synagogue and resume its duties as though it was written in 5772. No, we were going to celebrate its restoration with passion!
The dedication began in the Mamaroneck High School café. The atmosphere was joyful and celebratory. Besides for great food, company and décor, many of the guests present at the event were invited to the stage- where the sofer was sitting with the Torah, and given the opportunity to help the sofer write the last few lines of the Torah. Each letter of the Torah was meticulously and slowly written to ensure its perfection. What a privilege it was to be a part of something so meaningful!
Rabbi Mendel Silberstein, Shliach to Chabad of Larchmont and Mamaroneck, spoke beautifully about the history of the Torah. The Torah was then carried outside and led by a truck covered with colorful Torah signs and pictures, musicians, and a giant spinning crown atop.
Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, Mayor Norman Rosenblum, and hundreds of Jews from Larchmont and Mamaroneck danced down Boston Post Road, accompanied by live music and singing. Many heads turned to see what the celebration was about. I’m sure there was some shock when the onlookers discovered that it was not a wedding, not a graduation, nor was it an awareness parade, but rather a TORAH being rejoiced and danced down the street. Police stopped traffic as the crowd made its way to the Torah’s home, a brand new ark, in the Chabad center of Larchmont and Mamaroneck.
Young children were placed on shoulders and given flags made especially for this occasion, and a few lucky adults were awarded the opportunity to dance under the Chuppah- ceremonial canopy- with the Torah. The Torah was dressed like royalty, decked in a velvet coat and a majestic silver crown and breast plate. It was a beautiful and historic Torah dedication ceremony and celebration. It was a sight to behold!
Together we have brought this Holocaust Torah back to life!