Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Mission: Torah Rescue

C.B. Gavant

What happens when our beautiful Sifrei Torah fall into foreign hands, or must be left behind when Jews are expelled from their hometowns? How can we reclaim our Sifrei Torah and bring them back where they belong? Sometimes the Hand of Hashem is especially clear when it comes to rescuing these Sifrei Torah. Read on to learn how our Sifrei Torah have been saved, time and again, and remained among the Jewish People.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Krautheim, Germany, is a tiny town that was settled by Jews in the thirteenth century. Legend has it that the town was flooded shortly after the Jews settled in it, and one of the buildings destroyed in the flood was the newly constructed shul. Amazingly, the Sefer Torah in the shul remained unharmed. A note on the Sefer Torah tells us that the Torah scroll was swept away by the water, yet was miraculously rescued. Amazingly, the letters were not smudged by the water, but were found to be as clear as ever.

Seven hundred years later, there were still Jews living in Krautheim, even though they had been expelled three times in the intervening years (as was common in Germany in the Middle Ages). Yet on Succos of 1940, all the Jews of the town were rounded up and taken to prison camps. Each person was allowed to take only one suitcase with him, and all Jewish homes and possessions were confiscated by the Gestapo (the official secret police of Nazi Germany).

In May and June of 1941, the Nazis held a series of public auctions to sell these confiscated possessions. Yehudah (Adolf) Lobel, a native of Krautheim, was living in Karlsruhe, Germany, when the auctions were held. Passing by one of the auctions, he saw a Sefer Torah bearing a note written in beautiful old script attesting that it had come from Krautheim.

Acting quickly and fearlessly, Mr. Lobel looked around to check that no one was looking, and then he grabbed the Sefer Torah. He knew he couldn’t bring it home — if it were found in his property, he and his family would be punished severely. Instead, he took it to a building on Kronenstrasse that had once served as the Jewish hospital. Once inside the building, Mr. Lobel placed the Sefer Torah in the corner of the attic. He hid it behind a huge pile of bricks and prayed it would be safe.

Yehudah Lobel survived the war and was liberated by the French Army. The first thing he did upon recovering from his ordeal was go to Karlsruhe to find the Sefer Torah he had hidden.

Karlsruhe had been heavily bombed by the Allies during the war, and Kronenstrasse (a street in the downtown area) was almost completely destroyed. Yehudah Lobel found the upper half of the Jewish hospital smashed and in ruins — except for one corner of the attic, where his precious Torah scroll lay hidden.

Mr. Lobel’s joy was beyond words. He carefully cleared away the bricks and rubble and retrieved the Sefer Torah, which had miraculously survived not just a flood in the thirteenth century, but also the Nazi auction and the war.


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you