Hungarian Torah scroll restoration in kibbutz Parod
Situated 15 km from the historic city of Cfat in the upper Galilee in Israel, Kibbutz Parod was founded in 1949 by a group of Holocaust survivors who had immigrated from Hungary after WWII and organized for this purpose by one of the Zionist youth movements – Dror Habonim. Once established, the Kibbutz was named Gardos, after Jozsef Gardos the founder of the group, who most regretfully passed away prior to the departure of his followers to Israel. During the excavation process for the foundations of the new kibbutz, it turned out that that it was located on the ruins of an ancient Jewish settlement from the 3rd century, named Parod. At that moment – Gardos became Parod. Parod is one of dozens of kibbutztim which were founded by Hungarian Jewish immigrants during the early years of the new state of Israel.
Today the current kibbutz members of Farod are promoting a unique project which is associated with the visit of the president of the state in Israel, Mr. Haim Herzog, in Hungary on September 1991. This was the first official visit of an Israeli president in Hungary following the change of the local regime. During this special and moving visit the Jewish community of Hungary awarded the president with a Torah scroll that was written during the 1930’s and survived the dramatic years of the Holocaust. In Israel a special cover (Meil) was tailored for the Torah with an inscription that gave credit to the gesture of the Hungarian Jewish community. President Herzog decided then to contribute the Torah to kibbutz Parod.
Thirty years later, the members of the kibbutz decided to attend to the frailing condition of the Torah and restore it to its original condition, thus enabling the reading from a kosher scroll. The members thought that it would have been an appropriate idea to approach the Jewish community in Hungary and offer to jointly collaborate on this project. The Torah is perceived by the kibbutz community as a most significant relic that serves as a memorial of the founders of the kibbutz, as a witness to the ties with their historic roots and as an inspiring symbol to the younger generation. In addition, it is more than coincidental that the current president of the state of Israel, Mr. Yitzhak Herzog is the son of the late president Haim Herzog and he is also expected to take part in this exciting initiative.
The Torah restoration project may well serve as a model for collaboration between the Jewish community in Hungary and members of the younger generations of Hungarian families who immigrated to Israel. We are hopeful that this unique initiative would appeal to Hungarian Jews who would favorably consider supporting the project and contribute towards bringing this idea to actual fruition.