A synagogue dedication in Jerusalem

Having this beautiful and holy synagogue dedicated in their memory in Jerusalem will forever be a testament to the legacy that they leave behind.

September 25, 2019 12:19
3 minute read.
A synagogue dedication in Jerusalem

The dedication in Hebrew of the Heichal Ephraim and Bertin Synagogue in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Courtesy)

In June, my family was blessed with the opening of the Heichal Ephraim and Bertin Synagogue in Jerusalem. Located in the historic section of Mea She’arim, the synagogue is named after my grandparents, Rabbi Ephraim and Bertin Tita. In attendance were my dear family, friends and many other distinguished guests from around the world. From that moment on, I took great pride in knowing that this holy synagogue in the holiest of cities in the world will bear their name, and for generations to come.

One of the first stops on my visit to Israel before the ceremony was a very emotional one. I visited the grave of my righteous and beloved grandparents who were married for 58 beautiful and fulfilling years, and who are buried next to each other in Har Hamenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem.

My grandfather was a rabbi, a successful business professional and a scholar who came from a long dynasty of rabbis (the Matitiyahu family) from the Jewish community of Baghdad. My grandmother was a ba’alat hesed (a woman of charity), who built a successful business with my grandfather, and was a woman of valor who came from the Shaaya family, an aristocratic family from Baghdad as well.

 My grandparents moved to Israel in 1951 and witnessed many of the defining moments in Israel’s history. During those early years, an estimated 250,000 Jews of Iraqi origin came to Israel and set up schools, synagogues and foundations throughout the country to support the community and pass on the rich Babylonian Jewish heritage. The third-largest Jewish community in Israel, the Iraqi Jewish community has been actively involved in all levels of Israeli society.

Sixteen years ago, on June 11, 2003, my righteous, loving and devoted grandmother, Bertin Tita, was killed in a suicide bus bombing at Davidka Square, in the center of Jerusalem. The culprit who inflicted so much pain upon my family, the 16 other families of the bereaved, and the countless number of injured innocent bystanders was an 18-year-old Palestinian terrorist whose name need not be mentioned.

The names that will be remembered throughout eternity are those who were killed al kiddush Hashem (in sanctification of the name of God) both that day and throughout the entire history of the Jewish people.

My grandmother was a kind, caring and giving person and was the matriarch of my family. She arrived with my grandfather (the patriarch of the family) during the defining moments of Israel’s history. After the Arabs had stolen the possessions of the Jews of Baghdad and many other countries throughout the region and world, my grandparents were able to build a successful and beautiful life in Israel. They performed numerous acts of charity by helping the poor, and having an endless amount of guests at their Shabbat table in Jerusalem.

On Israel’s 60th anniversary, my grandfather recited the closing Kaddish prayer for the State of Israel on Mount Herzl with the IDF saluting behind him, all of the heads of state standing up for him, and the whole country watching. I felt this great sense of emotion as I thought of all of those who have died in times of terror and war throughout our over 3,000 years of Jewish history.
On February 27, 2018, my grandfather passed away peacefully in Jerusalem. He always stayed strong, and was an immense source of inspiration for everyone to keep faith in God. At my grandfather’s funeral, I said at the memorial that he was now reunited with my grandmother forever.

As I reflected with my family at the synagogue dedication in June, I was reminded how proud I am to be my grandparents’ grandson. Having this beautiful and holy synagogue dedicated in their memory in Jerusalem will forever be a testament to the legacy that they leave behind. Knowing that this building will always be a thriving center of Torah study gives both of my grandparents a tremendous amount of pride and gratification in heaven, as my family and the Nation of Israel continue their beautiful legacy.

Joseph Scutts received his undergraduate degree in business from Yeshiva University, and his MBA from Long Island University. A financial adviser who resides in NYC, he is involved in more than 10 Israel-based and Jewish advocacy organizations.

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