Louis Weiner’s Statement on Rescued Torah: Temple B’nai Sholom
Welcoming The Rescued Torah
Dr. Louis Weiner’s Presentation in Honor of His Daughter, Julie Ann Weiner
This is difficult, more difficult than I had thought. This, the introduction to the dedication of this Torah, this Torah that has survived the desecrations of the Godless Nazi butchers, has special meaning to Temple B’nai Sholom, to Jews everywhere, and to me. For me, it forces the memory of my beloved daughter, Julie Ann, who died at age eleven, twenty-six years ago. Unlike Job, who never lost his faith, I wandered, figuratively, in the wilderness for two decades. Then, my business travel took me to Israel, and I have been fortunate to have visited Israel perhaps forty, perhaps fifty, perhaps even sixty times within the last eight years.
I have stood in the ruins of David’s fortress in Jerusalem, before the sacred Western Wall of the Second Temple in Jerusalem; on the heights of Masada, where 1000 Jews took their own lives rather than surrender to the Romans; on the hilltop town of Gamia, where 10,000 Jewish defenders were killed by the Romans; on the summit of Mount Hermon, overlooking the plains of Syria; in a kibbutz near Metulla, overlooking the green pastures of Lebanon; in nameless towns of the Golan Heights where partially destroyed buildings stand in silent tribute to the survival of Israel in the 1967 war; at the rock where it is purported that Abraham formed the covenant with God that formed the modern Jewish people; where Moses overlooked the Jordan; in the valley where David slew Goliath; at Abraham’s well in Beersheva; at Jacob’s well in Be’er Yakov; in the biblical towns of antiquity such as Akko, Jaffo, and Askelon; and, I suppose, I have literally crossed the paths of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Jesus, Mohammed, and most of the other Prophets.
I did not come away unchanged, for, through a process not clear to me, I felt a desire, a need, a drive, to reunite with the Jewish faith, and to understand and accept the death of my daughter.
I also visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, in Jerusalem; the memorial to the 6,000,000 Jews murdered by the Nazis. I visited the Hall of Children, and the image of the tower of candles, with the names of the 1,500,000 children murdered by the Nazis endlessly repeated, shall never leave me. It is fitting that the Memorial is built in remembrance, not built in bitterness; fitting to the spirit of Israel, to the spirit of survival of the Jews, to the spirit of survival of Judaism, through even this hideous climax to five millennia of persecution.
Perhaps that is the lesson that I have learned in my travels, the lesson that Jews must survive, individually, and that Judaism must collectively survive. And the Jews survive, and I survive, and Judaism survives.
And anti-semitism survives.
Last year, I also visited the concentration camp at Dachau. Reality.
Last year, I also visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
While not everyone is fortunate enough to visit Yad Vashem in Israel, every Jew in the United States, every Jew visiting the United States, every person of sensibility, every person who claims compassion, and every person who purports a belief in God or just in humanity, should visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. It is different than Yad Vashem, different in the sense that it is designed and built to evoke emotion, to evoke feeling, to evoke anger, to quantify and overcome the disbelief that this could have happened.
Reality. Stark reality. Emotion ripping reality.
Entering, one is given a booklet of the life of one of the involved Jews, or of some non-Jews. Most are Jews. A name; a background: a scholar, a butcher, or a Rabbi; a child, a youth, a vigorous young adult, an adult of wearying middle age, or a respected elder. The passage through the museum is chronological; the booklet parallels the chronology with the description of the person’s life through these unbelievable tragic and monstrous times. Through Kristallnacht. Through the ghettos. On the trains. In the camps. At the end of the passage through the Museum, the last page of the booklet reveals the fate of this alter ego that passes through the Holocaust with you. Some survive; most do not. 6,000,000 do not. 1,500,000 children do not.
At the end, there is a book open to record feelings, to record observations, to record thoughts. At first I wrote, through tears:
There were benches, where I sat and wept for a while. When I regained my composure, as much as possible, I wrote again:
That this Torah has survived the Holocaust where little else has, has survived fire charred, water stained, and perhaps blood stained, seems to instill in it a special meaning. So perhaps it is fitting that it becomes a remembrance: for me, a personal remembrance of my beloved daughter; for the youth of Temple B’nai Sholom, remembrance of the 1,500,000 children; for all, a remembrance of the 6,000,000.
Therefore, I dedicate this Torah, in loving memory of my beloved daughter Julie Ann, to the children of Temple B’nai Sholom, to help keep the memory of the innocent victims of the Holocaust alive.