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NY temple donates scroll to Amsterdam congregation

Dutch synagogue in old Jewish Quarter

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands - The recent presentation of a Torah scroll at the Uilenburger Synagogue in the old Jewish Quarter of the Dutch capital signifies another step by the Beit ha’Chidush group in becoming a full fledged congregation.

The scroll was donated by The Village Temple of New York, a congregation with strong affinity to the Amsterdam group which is described as ‘progressive.’ Beit ha’Chidush (House of Renewal) is a community in progress in which men and women are fully equal. It was formed less than a decade ago and has been meeting in the old synagogue for seven years.

The Torah Scroll is the most sacred Jewish ritual object. On it, the Five Books of Moses are inscribed by hand with quail and ink on specially prepared skin of a kosher animal.

The Uilenburger Synagogue in its present form dates from 1766 and was built to serve the growing Ashkenazim community in Amsterdam which largely had settled on the Uilenburg island. The entire interior of the synagogue was pilfered or destroyed during the German occupation of the Netherlands 1940 1945, when 104,000 Dutch Jews were murdered in Nazi concentration and death camps.

After an initial restoration of the building in 1954, the former synagogue became the home and workshop of various restoration societies. In 1988, it became the National Restoration Centre serving as an example how conservation and heritage restoration should be performed.