'Mourners' gather at 'funeral' of Torah Scrolls (Western Wall Heritage Foundation)

19 Torah scrolls some of which survived the Holocaust in Europe, with the oldest among them being 150 years old, were brought today to be buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. This “Genizah” procedure, which is a kind of burial ritual for holy books, is practiced according to Jewish religious customs.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation held a historic event Wednesday evening which took place for the first time at the Western Wall Plaza. During the event, ancient Torah scrolls were brought for Genizah. All the scrolls had become worn out over the years from repeated use by the large public in daily prayers, holidays, and Bar Mitzvah celebrations at the Western Wall plaza.

The Torahs tell the story of different periods and communities, with the estimate being that there are scrolls that are 150 years old. Some of the 19 scrolls buried today survived the First World War and the Holocaust in Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary. The scrolls that were used by the millions of worshipers and visitors to the Western Wall plaza every year for decades and had been worn out and thus disqualified for use because they could not be repaired and made ‘Kosher’ again.

The unique ceremony was held with the participation of many senior officials including rabbis, ministers, and more. The entire ceremony was dedicated to elevating the soul of Rabbi Gershon Edelstein who passed earlier this week.

From the Western Wall, the scrolls were taken in a convoy to the burial position on the Mount of Olives by the main and general Jerusalem Kadisha Society, towards the special Genizah structure established by the Kadisha Society by Jerusalem-Jewish customs.

The rabbi of the Jewish quarter, Rabbi Avigdor Nebnitzel spoke: "Today we are going to accompany the Torah books, after yesterday we were accompanied by a living Torah book [referring to the death of Rabbi Edelstein]. We do not accompany the Torah books, but the Torah accompanies us wherever we go."

The Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Places, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch added: "We have the great privilege of bringing these books to rest with due respect and according to the Halacha and the customs of Israel. Nineteen Torah scrolls are faithful evidence of decades of use and represent the Jewish communities in Israel and abroad. We will continue to ensure that the Torah books at the Western Wall will be elegant, according to the custom of all denominations."

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