There are five Sifrei Torah - Torah scrolls - in our Ark, each with its own history and characteristics.
One Torah, written in 1850-51, was brought to this country from Mainz, Germany in 1938 by the father of one of our congregants. This scroll, rescued from Europe as the dark days of the Holocaust began to descend, is often carried around the Sanctuary, a symbol of the eternity of the Jewish people. Another Torah, written in the early 1800's in Moravia, shows kabbalistic (mystical) influences. We have a scroll from Czechoslovakia, written just before World War II. Written in the late 1700's is our Torah from Munkacj, Hungary, an almost entirely Jewish city that was totally wiped out during the Holocaust. The last scroll was pieced together from two other scrolls which were probably rescued from the Holocaust. Neither scroll (one from the late 1700's and one from the early 1700's or perhaps even the late 1600's) was in good enough condition on its own, and so they were combined to create a new Sefer Torah. Smoke damage may indicate that one of the scrolls was in a Synagogue burnt during Kristallnacht.
The ornaments that decorate our five Torah scrolls represent five key periods of Jewish history: Biblical times, the Rabbinic period, the development of Hasidism and the Haskalah (enlightenment), the Holocaust, and Modernity.
Our Sanctuary's bimah was designed by Moshe Zabari, an internationally acclaimed Israeli artist and craftsman. The word "Shalom" decorates the doors of the Ark. Shalom not only denotes peace, but refers to that sense of wholeness and holiness which we all strive to achieve. The menorah at the top of the East wall spells out the word "Halleluyah" which means "praise God."
Our Judaic Art
A collection of antique ritual objects can be found in our Judaica display case. These include a German chanukiyah from approximately 1800, an early 19th century American Sephardic Purim Megillah, an 18th century Megillah from Afghanistan, a circumcision set from Russia, and a variety of contemporary objects by such well-known artists as Ludwig Wolpert, Avi Biran and Rafi Landau.
The Holocaust Memorial
Adjacent to our sanctuary in our outdoor gardens is the Holocaust Memorial Sculpture. This "Dwelling of Remembrance," was designed by Robert I. Katz, "not only to signify the vast destruction brought to bear upon the Jewish people, but also to represent the fierce spirit of survival borne through the struggle of these events." On tablets of granite are engraved the names of the major death camps; the Stars of David symbolize both the yellow star Jews had to wear during the Holocaust and the nations in which Jews were exterminated; the stars on the ridge represent the nations which admitted Jewish refugees from 1933 through 1945. The six outer pillars, symbolizing the six million Jews who died, hold up floating figures representing the spirits of the victims, as well as the spiritual commitment, to remembrance and to our faith, of all future generations.