October 12, 2006 / 20 Tishrei 5767
Two ancient Torah scrolls in Ethiopia were rescued by the Jewish Agency and flown to Israel during the Succoth holiday. They were used for the joyful Simchat Torah celebrations in Jerusalem.
The fascinating story of the Torah scrolls' arrival to Israel began when the Ethiopian compound in Addis Ababa was slated to be closed. With other groups set to move in the Torah scrolls had to be removed immediately, or possibly lost to the Jewish community forever.
Jewish Agency representative in Ethiopia, Ori Konforti, worked with the Ethiopian police to remove the scrolls and then sent them to Israel.
The two Torah scrolls have an interesting history. An American philanthropist donated one to the compound in Addis Ababa, where Ethiopian Jews received services before making aliyah. The Yemenite Jewish Community brought the second Torah to Ethiopia at the beginning of the 20th century and loaned it to the synagogue in the Addis Ababa compound.
One of the Torah scrolls will have a permanent home in an Ethiopian synagogue housed in the Jewish Agency absorption center in the northern city of Kiryat Yam that was directly hit by Katyusha rockets during the recent war.
The second scroll will return to the tiny Yemenite community in Ethiopia, consisting of five families, after Simchat Torah.
With the arrival of the Torah scrolls, the Ethiopian community has reason to rejoice, especially after the terror-filled month many of them spent during the war in underground bomb shelters in northern absorption centers.
Jewish Agency Chairman, Zeev Bielski, noted that the rescue of two Torah scrolls on the eve of Simchat Torah symbolizes the biblical verse “the Torah will come forth from Zion.”
Photo Credit: Yael Tzur / Israel Sun