New Torahs Help With Accessibility

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Torahs: Rabbi Barry Blum (right) with Rabbi Isaac Leizerowski who came to Congregation Beth El-Ner Tamid to check the synagogue’s Torahs on the eve of Shavuot. | Photo provided

Congregation Beth El-Ner Tamid has a few unexpected connections to a state more than 600 miles away.

When Pope Francis came to town in 2015, the Broomall shul hosted a group of travelers from the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Bowling Green, Ky., as they came to see the religious figure.

Now, the synagogue formed a unique connection with Keneseth Israel Congregation in Louisville, which posted on a cantorial listing a few weeks ago that it was looking for a home for a few of its Torahs.


Two of those Torahs are now housed at Beth El-Ner Tamid — and they don’t take up much space.

At less than a foot tall each, the Torahs provide opportunities for congregants to dress and carry the sacred texts when they might not have been able to otherwise.

“We have a number of congregants who are a bit older and have difficulty holding a very big Torah,” said Rabbi Barry Blum, who added the Torahs can easily be held in one hand. “By having these small Torahs, [congregants] will be able to be engaged in services, to be able to hold them or sit with them or carry them or embrace them in a way that not normally is available for people.”

One is more of a ceremonial than a functional Torah, he noted, and both are at least 200 years old.

Also of note is one of the Torahs is from Germany and survived the war, Blum added, though he isn’t sure exactly from which town. “It went from Germany to, at some point, Kentucky and then to Broomall. So it’s traveled quite a way in its history.”

A covering that appears on some text inscribed in one of the Torahs indicates it was placed in a dark or moldy spot at some point, which Rabbi Isaac Leizerowski is trying to remove, Blum said.

The timing of receiving the Torahs and fixing them up was significant with the Jewish calendar as it happened around Shavuot, which celebrates the Jews receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai.

“It’s really very apropos,” Blum said.

The enhanced connection to Kentucky stood out, as he received comments and messages from some church members the synagogue hosted when he posted about the Torahs on social media.

“When they saw the posting of the Torahs being brought to our synagogue, they said it’s another special connection to Kentucky, and I thought that was really pretty amazing,” Blum said. “They wrote on my Facebook page how happy they were to see that connection being made.”

He’s looking forward to sharing the Torahs with the synagogue community, which he said has already felt the positive effects.

“What’s really special is we’ve already used them at a service,” he said, as well as a baby naming ceremony. “We have a population that has been telling me for the last couple years, ‘I don’t want an honor of lifting or carrying the Torah, it’s too heavy or it’s hard for me to do that,’ so I made it easy for them.”

He emphasized that there is a deeper lesson in the story: “Great things can come in small packages,” he noted.

mstern@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0740

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