Interfaith effort, interfaith tribute

January 30, 2003 11:00 pm

By LENORE

RUTHERFORD

Thanks to three local Christian churches, The Motherlode Jewish Community can rededicate a century-old, fire-damaged Torah.

The Community will hold an interfaith recognition service for the churches, which helped raise the $3,000 needed for the Torah's restoration, at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 at Murphys Masonic Lodge, 384 Church St., Murphys.

Churches recognized will be Foothill Community and Union Congregational of Angels Camp and First Congregational in Murphys.

The Torah, which is about 90 feet long, will be unrolled and supported by people in attendance, said lay-Rabbi Larry Friedman.

Gwen Diamond, a 14-year-old Jewish girl whose garage sale raised $500 for the restoration, will be given the honor of reading the 10 Commandments in Hebrew out of the Torah.

Three Christian ministers will speak about giving thanks and the 10 Commandments from their viewpoints.

The Torah is a ram-skin scroll sewn together with muscle, upon which is written the first five books of the Old Testament in Hebrew.

It is the Scripture that congregations use to learn Jewish law.

A Torah must be written by a "sofer," a ritual scribe, who has both the religious knowledge and calligraphic ability to accurately reproduce it from another Torah without making any mistakes.

This Torah is one of four that originally belonged to the temple Adas Yashuran in Stockton.

Seven years ago, a fire was set in the temple.

Firefighters noticed the scrolls, knew they had to be important, and rescued them from the burning building.

One was damaged beyond repair.

Two of the others went to synagogues, and the fourth was given to Friedman to use for the Motherlode Jewish Community.

In addition to smoke damage, Motherlode's Torah had a fungus on it that caused the writing to fade. Rabbi Shmuel Miller, a ritual scribe, spent about three months restoring it.