The Yehuda family Torah scroll

The Torah scroll was written on the finest deerskin available in Bahdad and completed in 1912; It now resides at the Ohel Ari Synagogue in Ra'anana.

The Yehuda family Torah scroll. (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Yehuda family Torah scroll.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Yehuda family, who came to Iraq from Israel via the Spanish Exile, had for generations been among the rabbis and community leaders in Baghdad.
At the start of the 20th century, Yosef Yehuda and his brother Salah set out on a business trip to Iran. Yosef returned to Iraq, and Salah stayed there, as a representative of the firm. In Iran, he contracted a serious illness to which he succumbed. Back at home, and during the period of mourning, Yosef decided to have a Torah scroll written in memory of his brother and had it commissioned from the best scribes in Baghdad. It was written on the finest deerskin available and completed in 1912. The cover for the scroll was made of decorated and painted wood, covered with intricately worked silver, crafted by the best silversmiths of the time.
In 1950, the scroll was shipped to Israel together with other Torah scrolls that were saved during the fleeing of Jews from Iraq. Yosef, by then living in Israel, met the plane on which his family’s scroll arrived, and transported it to the home of his son Gad, originally named Fouad Salah (his middle name was after the uncle in whose memory the scroll had been written).
When Yosef and his wife moved to Petah Tikva, in 1959, he had the scroll kept in the Sephardi synagogue near his house. In 1964, Gad’s son Dani read from the scroll at his bar mitzva. Yosef died in 1969. The scroll then passed on to his son Yaakov, who at that time was employed at the Ben-Gurion Airport branch of Bank Leumi, and he offered it to the airport authorities. In 1971, in a public ceremony in the presence of religious services minister Aharon Abuhatzeira, it was brought into the airport’s synagogue.
In 1985, when Yaakov retired from his job at the airport, he retrieved the Torah scroll, by then damaged by a water leak in the synagogue and having lost its original pomegranate decorations. In 2006, Yosef’s granddaughter, Ruth, restored the scroll, and enormous time, effort and expense were invested to make it usable in time for the bar mitzva of Tamir, the great-grandson of Yosef. Its renovation was a long and costly process, finally completed in 2007. The bar mitzva took place at Kfar Saba’s Sephardi synagogue.
After the ceremony the scroll passed to the home of yet another of Yosef’s sons, Heskel (originally Yehezkel), where it remained until the completion of the Ohel Ari Synagogue on 98 Ravutzki Street, in Ra’anana, when it was dedicated on June 27, 2010. That synagogue was built in the memory of St.-Sgt. Ari Weiss, who lost his life in Nablus as an IDF soldier during Operation Defensive Shield.