Temple Sholom in Broomall Donates Torah to Community in Argentina

Rabbi Peter Rigler, center, holding the Torah, and other members of Temple Sholom in Broomall gifted a Torah to a community in Argentina. (Courtesy of Temple Sholom in Broomall)

Temple Sholom in Broomall had a few extra Torahs sitting in its ark, according to Rabbi Peter Rigler. So when the World Union for Progressive Judaism “put out a call” for Torahs for synagogues in need, the 400-plus family Reform congregation answered.

Synagogue leaders asked two Temple Sholom members who grew up in Argentina — Alex and Grace Gherovici — to help them. The couple found the Congreacion Israelita de la Republica Argentina (Jewish Congregation of Argentina) in Buenos Aires.

And on March 3, 27 members of Temple Sholom presented the Torah to their Argentine tribe members. Rigler and the synagogue’s executive director, Jeffrey Green, joined their counterparts Buenos Aires, Alejandro Pitashny and Rabbi Adrian Fada, in processing “the Torah down the long, beautiful aisle as those assembled clapped and cheered,” according to a write-up of the evening by Rigler.

“Especially at this moment of rising antisemitism, with what’s happening in Israel, it reminds us of the Hebrew phrase am echad im lev echad. We are one people with one heart,” the rabbi said.

Members of this Argentine community shared with Rigler that they had not had a Torah in “a long time.” In Entre Rios, the town north of Buenos Aires where the Torah ceremony took place, there are only “40 families that remain as members of the synagogue,” Rigler wrote.

“When I placed the Torah into the hands of the congregation, I could see in their eyes the sense of joy and connection,” he said.

The Reform community from Delaware County did not just pack up the Torah and leave. First, they brought it to a scribe, who spent a few weeks refurbishing it, according to Rigler.

“She made sure it was a kosher scroll in proper condition,” he said.

This is essential, according to Rigler. As he put it, “to do a mitzvah and give the Torah is nice.” But a congregation must also “make sure it is in proper and fit condition” to show respect for both the Torah and the recipients.

The Torah presentation ceremony in Argentina (Courtesy of Temple Sholom in Broomall)

Once it was in “proper and fit condition,” the Temple Sholom contingent took it to Argentina and had the Gherovicis present it. Grace Gherovici “shared that her own family arrived from Eastern Europe to the same area in Argentina where the Torah would soon be placed in the ark,” the rabbi wrote. “We were moved to tears to see the circle of Jewish life.”

The Gherovicis have lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years. They joined Temple Sholom in Broomall in 2010. Yet they still felt connected to the country from which they hailed.

“It felt like the world is small,” Gherovici said. “After so many years being integrated here with this community, I never thought it would be such a connection to Argentina.”

Gherovici called the Torah “the spiritual object that makes the connection between two faraway countries with different languages and different stories.”

“The Torah is a central part of our story,” she added.

After the ceremony, the son of one of the Argentine synagogue’s leaders approached Rigler. He hugged the rabbi and thanked him for “giving the Torah to his father.”

The rabbi responded by saying, “It’s not for your father. It’s for you.” It was a gift for “the future of the community,” Rigler wrote.

“How beautiful that a Torah which sat in the ark as a spare now has a community that will bring it life,” the rabbi concluded in his write-up.

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