Dec 13, 2005 — The Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) at Yeshiva University (YU), in partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), located a Torah for a flood-ravaged synagogue in Panvel, India, just in time for Rosh Hashanah in October.
The Beth-El Synagogue in Panvel, India was flooded with eight feet of water after severe storms hit the Maharashtra State in Western India this summer, damaging the synagogue’s Torah scrolls and prayer books. The synagogue contacted the JDC, which called YU for help in obtaining a Torah scroll for the congregation.
“Part of our goal at the CJF is to strengthen and reinvigorate Jewish communities on the local, regional, and international level,” said Rabbi Ari Rockoff, director of community initiatives at the center. “Our Blanche Schreiber Torah Tours program has sent hundreds of students out to bring the Torah’s teachings to many different locations. But the chance to connect a Torah that was not being used with a community that desperately needed it was a shidduch (match) that the CJF was born to make.”
Lisa Feldman, gifts-in-kind associate at the JDC and a 2002 graduate of YU’s Stern College for Women, said she turned to the center “as someone whose sense of global Jewish responsibility was fostered and developed at Yeshiva University.”
Within hours, CJF staff members—including Rabbi Rockoff and Aaron Leibowitz, coordinator of Torah Tours and a rabbinical student at YU’s affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary—located a sefer Torah for donation from the Inwood Hebrew Congregation in Upper Manhattan. The synagogue in Washington Heights was closing, but one of its few surviving members, Jason Rosenberger, who was in charge of its Judaica items, wanted to ensure the shul lived on in other communities (Torah scrolls were also sent to synagogues in southern Spain, Argentina, and a new Jewish chapel at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.)
Within 24 hours, the Torah was examined, minor repairs were made, and the scroll was declared kosher. Ms. Feldman picked up the Torah from YU and arranged for transport to India. The Torah arrived just in time for Rosh Hashanah, along with a shipment of High Holiday prayer books and copies of the Bible that the JDC obtained at a discounted rate with support from a private donor.