A precious religious document is to be returned to Cornwall’s Jewish community after being part of a museum collection for more than a century.
The 250-year-old Torah Scroll will be officially handed over by The Duke of Gloucester at a ceremony in Truro’s Royal Cornwall Museum on May 28. It will then be cared for by Kehillat Kernow, the Jewish Community of Cornwall.
Kehillat Kernow treasurer Leslie Lipert said: “The handing over of the scroll at the museum will be a tremendous historic event. It is welcomed by the entire Jewish community in Cornwall as a symbol of continuity of the Jewish community through its original use at the Falmouth Synagogue.”
Torah scrolls are one of the holiest objects in the Jewish religion and Kehillat Kernow made contact with the museum, requesting that the community be allowed to make use of one held in its collection. A formal request was made by Kehillat Kernow chairman Harvey Kurzfield, supported by former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and it was approved by museum trustees.
“We have enjoyed the very thorough and open negotiations with the museum and Courtney Library and it is our hope that this good relationship will continue to grow,” said Mr Lipert.
The sacred scroll, which was used in the 18th and 19th centuries, is one of four which were given to the Royal Institution of Cornwall – the body that owns and manages the Royal Cornwall Museum and Courtney Library – in 1892 by Samuel Jacobs, the last leader of the Falmouth Synagogue congregation.
Royal Cornwall Museum director Ian Wall said: “This is a tremendous occasion for which I have my predecessor, Hilary Bracegirdle, to thank because she undertook the very thorough and sensitive negotiations for the repatriation. It is a clear signal that the RIC is committed to establishing strong links with communities across Cornwall and in this case the Jewish Community.”
The scroll has been restored by certified Torah scribe Bernard Benarroch, who added: “It was an honour to restore this Sefer because I know it is intrinsically important to the Cornwall community.”
After the hand-over ceremony on May 28, there will be a procession to the Town Hall, followed by a dedication service by the Reverend Elkan Levy, a past president of the United Synagogue and a past chairman of the Chief Rabbinate Council.