Torahs from Topeka to Siberia and from New York to Minsk

Ten years after the coup that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union, Reform Jewish leaders traveled there to donate Torah scrolls and to participate in the training of congregational leaders for the High Holidays.

ARZA/WORLD UNION, North America lead its largest mission yet to the former Soviet Union (FSU) on Thursday, Aug. 23, returning on Sept. 2. The group of 30 visited Kiev, St. Petersburg and Moscow.

During the mission, two Torahs were placed on permanent loan to Reform congregations in the FSU. A Torah from Temple Beth Shalom of Topeka, Kansas, was presented to the Siberian Congregation Madregot of Tumin, Russia. The 180-year-old scroll, originally from Germany, was the Reform congregation's first Torah. Rabbi Scott Corngold, the assistant rabbi of Temple Shaaray Tefila of New York City, along with representatives of his congregation, donated a Torah to Congregation Simcha of Minsk, Belarus.

The Torah dedication ceremony took place on Sept. 1 at an annual seminar near Moscow that prepares congregational leaders for High Holiday services. More than 150 lay leaders from the 90 Reform congregations of the FSU attended, including representatives from Tumin and Minsk, as well as other communities in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic states.

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