Calvary Dedicates Historic Torah Scroll Following Yearlong Effort

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One-hundred-thirty-five-year-old scroll now kosher enough for use in worship.

Seated L-R: Dr. Brescia, Rabbi Levi Selwyn. Standing L-R: Rabbi Rachmiel Rothberger, Jeffrey Ohrenstein, Fr. Erie Cruz

At a poignant ceremony on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, Calvary Hospital dedicated a restored 135-year-old Torah scroll that is itself a Holocaust survivor. This Torah scroll — dating from 1880 — is originally from the town of Taus-Domazlice, in what is now known as The Czech Republic. Since 1988, it has been on permanent loan to Calvary from the Memorial Scrolls Trust in London.

On hand for this historic and first-time Calvary event, were Jeffrey Ohrenstein, executive chairman/trustee of the Memorial Scrolls Trust and Rabbi Levi Selwyn of Sofer On Site, the company who handled the restoration.

“I am so delighted to be here for this joyous and meaningful event,” said Ohrenstein. “Calvary could have easily commissioned a brand new Sefer Torah. Instead, they chose to take the time, effort and considerably more expense to breathe new life into this historic scroll. Now, all Calvary patients, families and staff will be able to benefit from this effort.”

“Since our earliest years, Calvary has embraced the opportunity to care for patients from all faith backgrounds,” said Frank A. Calamari, president & CEO, Calvary Hospital. “Once we found out that this scroll needed extensive repairs, there was no doubt that we would do whatever was needed to complete this important task.”

Thanks to early significant support from the Charles R. and Winifred R. Weber Foundation, Calvary launched the restoration in November 2015. To date, this initiative has raised more than $100,000. Once all restoration expenses have been covered, remaining funds will benefit all patients and families under Calvary's care. To support this important initiative, please visit http://www.calvaryhospital.org/torahrestoration.

During World War II, the Nazis confiscated Jewish ritual items and sacred Torah scrolls from Jewish communities of Bohemia and Moravia, then known as Czechoslovakia. This collection of Jewish cultural and religious artifacts bears witness to the horrors of the Holocaust.

In 1964, the Westminster Synagogue in London agreed to receive 1,564 Torah scrolls from Prague. They established the Memorial Scrolls Trust to restore the scrolls and distribute them to communities throughout the world. Torahs are currently on permanent loan to more than 1,400 congregations throughout the world. There are an estimated 1,000 in the U.S. alone. The vast majority have been loaned to recipients firmly planted in the Jewish community such as synagogues, camps, yeshivas, day schools and community centers. Calvary's scroll, No. 515, is one of only 20 in the greater New York area today and one of just a handful that has gone to non-Jewish recipients. To learn more about the Trust, visit: http://www.memorialscrollstrust.org.

Jewish patients and families at Calvary have many amenities at their fingertips. Three rabbis at Calvary care for hundreds of Jewish inpatients and home hospice patients each year. In addition to kosher food upon request, Jewish inpatients and their families can expect a daily visit from a rabbi, food from an expanded Kosher Hospitality Room, dedicated Shabbos Lounge, Kabbalat Shabbat service, and celebrations of all major holidays.

The Hospital’s outreach to the Jewish community and the Torah restoration have been spearheaded by Dr. Michael J. Brescia, executive medical director.

About the Company:
For more than a century, Calvary Hospital has been the nation’s only fully accredited, acute care specialty hospital devoted exclusively to providing palliative care to adult patients with advanced cancer and other life-limiting illnesses. More than 6,000 patients are cared for annually by Calvary’s inpatient, home care, and hospice services. Inpatient care is offered at their 200-bed facility in the Bronx and 25-bed Brooklyn Satellite at NYU Lutheran. Calvary Hospice provides short-term inpatient care at The Dawn Greene Hospice, located at Mary Manning Walsh Home in Manhattan. To learn more or sign up for the e-newsletter, Calvary Life, please go to http://www.calvaryhospital.org.

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Barbara Nitzberg
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