Temple B'rith Kodesh is helping restore and maintain two Holocaust Torahs. The congregation is inviting the Jewish community to repair them to kosher condition one letter at a time.
Rabbi Yochaman Salazar is a sofer. His life's work is to transcribe Torah scrolls, the foundation of Jewish tradition and learning. He's helping Temple B'rith Kodesh restore Torahs that date back to mid- to late-1800s from the Czech Republic.
"Through time, et cetera, we tend to forget about the source of where we came from and traditions, so our job is to try to get people back in touch with that," said Rabbi Salazar.
It's tedious, detailed work, but with the help of the local Jewish community, the Torah is being cleaned, re-stitched and re-written.
Torahs contain the first five books of the Bible. There are more than 304,000 letters in handwritten black ink on about 62 pages of parchment. It must be exact and have no errors.
"Being that is it a unique code, every letter has to be clear and present on the parchment. If one of them is missing, the entire scroll is not considered kosher," said Salazar. "By writing that one letter is as if they are writing the entire scroll, each and every one of those things has a direct connection to who we are as a person and who we are as a community."
It's meaningful work on a piece of history, especially when you talk to Holocaust survivors.
Three generations of the Rosen-Wexler family said a prayer and then helped write a letter that had faded.
"When we were done I said to her, 'Mom, we win, they lose,' but really it is not about winning or losing but about surviving and about continuing the generations and continuing the thread," said Rachel Rosen of Rochester.
Scrolls like this are the last of their kind and very symbolic for people like Lily Harber.
She survived the Holocaust.
"I survived and I was strong," said Harber.
More people will get their chance to work with Rabbi Salazar. He'll return to Temple B'rith Kodesh the next several months to help complete the Torah restoration. That's expected to take about a year.
For more information on the Torah Restoration Project, call (585) 727-9084.