Rose Medical Center (Memorial Scrolls Trust of Westminster Synagogue) Holocaust Torah
It is miraculous enough to possess a cherished Westminster Trust Holocaust Torah. These sacred scrolls are a living, breathing tribute and triumph to the victims of the Shoah and legacy of Jewish perseverance and continuity. However, it is even more unique and special for a health care institution to utilize living, hallowed, ritual history.
For the past 29 years, Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colorado, has savored their “permanently loaned” Torah scroll from Susice, former Czechoslovakia.
The sacred scroll is a mainstay in the hospital and greater Denver metropolitan area. The Torah is used for periodic worship services in the hospital chapel and shared with visitors to the health care community. As a powerful healing tool, the Sacred Scroll is brought to hospital rooms for patients and their loved ones to hold and feel the connection to faith and peoplehood. Rose Medical Center physicians and other members of the Jewish community use the Holocaust Torah for B'nai Mitzvah ceremonies on-site or elsewhere in Colorado. And, the Sefer Torah has a special relationship not only with a hospital, but also an Advisory Board, a town in the Czech Republic, and a Jewish Day School.
Ten years ago, a confluence of events led to a year-long refurbishing and rededication of the Sacred Scroll. While extensively utilized for educational, historical and communal purposes; the Holocaust Torah was not “kosher”, having suffered water damage and other indignities along with her sister Westminster Trust Sefrei Torah. Tragically and suddenly, the chair of the Rose Medical Center Advisory Board passed away at the young age of 59, leaving behind a wife and children. The community wanted to honor this leader and servant in a substantive and lasting way. The decision was made by then Rose Medical Center CEO Ken Feiler, along with the support of the Board and other community leaders, to initiate a special fund in Alan Laff's blessed memory to restore and “rekosher” the Sacred Scroll.
For an entire year, expert scribes from Sofer On Site in North Miami Beach, Florida, painstakingly repaired the Holocaust Torah. Literally every single letter of the scroll was filled-in or repaired, utilizing the exact same original calligraphy and letter outline. The initial parchment was preserved. As the restoration process neared completion, the Torah scroll was brought back to Denver for a series of rededication ceremonies coinciding with Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, our time of “Rededication”.
The hospital became a focal point for the entire community to gather, fill-in their own letter of the Torah, and hear the tortuous and heroic story of this sacred scroll. With the late Holocaust survivor from Susice, Hana Gruna, in attendance, as well as Founder and Secretary of the Czech Torah Network/U.S. Director Memorial Scrolls Trust of Westminster Synagogue Susan Boyer and the lead scribe refurbishing the Torah Scroll, Rabbi Gedaliah Druin; the very final letters of the Holocaust Torah were completed in a special place. The Denver Jewish Day School was chosen for symbolic meaning and experiential learning for our Jewish future. With well over 1000 students, parents, teachers, hospital employees and community members in attendance, the last letters of the Torah scroll rededication were completed.
As a result, this living, breathing ritual historical sacred object not only maintained its educational mission, tool of healing and ambassador of generations past, but also became a Kosher Scroll worthy of prayer services and life cycle moments.
We are proud to be a part of the Memorial Scrolls Trust of Westminster Synagogue family. We at Rose share the legacy and Neshamah of generations past and our Jewish future. Our hospital community sees this sacred scroll as an agent of connection, faith, family and healing. We are blessed and grateful to help tell the stories, keep memories alive and build for our future.