(photo credit: ROOM404.NET)
In the presence of MKs, rabbis and veterans of the Soviet Union’s Red Army, a Torah scroll was completed in the Knesset on Tuesday and dedicated to its synagogue to commemorate Jews who fought in various armies and partisan units during the Second World War.
The initiative to commemorate May 9 – the date on which Russia marks victory over the Third Reich – in the Jewish calendar as a day of honor for Jewish fighters in the war came from Gabriel German Zaharyaev, a vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress who also donated the funds for the Torah itself.
At the ceremony in the Knesset auditorium, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said that there is no better way to commemorate Jewish fighters against the Nazis than to dedicate a Torah in their memory.
“In pogroms against Jews in the past, they would always burn Torah scrolls, because this was the symbol of the Jewish people,” said Edelstein.
“The fact that we are continuing [in the path] of our Torah proves our victory,” he declared.
After speeches by former chief rabbi and Holocaust survivor Yisrael Meir Lau and by the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt, the final letters of the Torah were inked by Edelstein, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, head of the opposition MK Isaac Herzog, MK Avigdor Liberman and several other MKs.
Following the completion of the Torah, it was danced down the Knesset’s hallways accompanied by raucous music along with rabbis, dignitaries and members of the audience from the event and brought into the Knesset synagogue with great fanfare.
“There is no better monument to, and immortalization of, the hundreds of thousands of Jewish soldiers who gave up their lives in the war against the Nazis than writing a Torah scroll, the eternal book of books of the Jewish people,” said Lau of the ceremony and the initiative to commemorate Jewish fighters who died during the war.