Cornish Jews celebrate return of 250-year old Torah

Cornish Jews celebrate return of 250-year old Torah

The 250-year-old Sefer Torah was carried in a procession to Truro Town Hall
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Rev Elkan Levy led a special dedication service after the procession

The Cornish Jewish community has celebrated the historic return of a 250-year old Sefer Torah from the Royal Cornwall Museum.

His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester oversaw the handover ceremony in Truro on 28 May, in which the Torah scroll was returned to Kehillat Kernow, the Jewish Community of Cornwall.

“This is a tremendous historic event,” said Leslie Lipert, treasurer of Kehillat Kernow, who explained that the original request had received the back of former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks. “It is welcomed as a symbol of continuity of the Jewish community.”

One of four gifted to the institution in 1892 by Samuel Jacobs, the last leader of the Falmouth Synagogue congregation, it had been used in the 18th and 19th centuries and came from the German Bohemian areas, based on the type of writing.

However, the Sefer Torah’s letters were in bad condition in every column throughout due to its age and use. All the letters needed attention as well as the holes in the parchment needed careful repair.

Bernard Benarroch, a certified Torah Scribe who restored the Scroll, said: “It was an honour to restore this Sefer as I know that it is intrinsically important to the Cornwall community.” 

Community leaders praised the museum, saying there had been “thorough and open negotiations” about the return of the scroll, which is one of the holiest objects in the Jewish religion.

After the handing over ceremony, there was a procession to the Town Hall, followed by a special dedication service by the Rev Elkan Levy, a past President of the United Synagogue and a past Chairman of the Chief Rabbinate Council. 

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