Martin Small, Holocaust survivor and subject of the new book about his life, Remember Us: from my shtetl through the Holocaust, in a miraculous fundraising effort, has given an old Torah a new home. Martin is donating the proceeds from his book sales to the Martin and Doris Small Torah Fund at his synagogue in Boulder, Bonai Shalom. Within just a few weeks of starting the fundraiser, the synagogue was able to purchase a Torah that, like Martin himself, survived the Holocaust.
Martin, pictured to the left of Rabbi Marc Soloway (photo credit Ken Miller Photography), gazes at the decades-old Torah as it is presented to his synagogue in early August. Martin said, “This Torah, like me, has traveled around the world, lost and displaced. Now it has a home. Now it can finally rest.”
The synagogue was packed to standing room only to witness Martin and his wife Doris as they placed the Torah into the ark during the ceremony. Upon closing the ark, Doris gazed at the new Torah and said, “Welcome home.”
It is believed that before the war the Torah was hidden from its original site in Poland or Germany and smuggled into Israel before eventually coming to the United States.
Bonai Shalom’s Torah, since the inception of the synagogue, has been on loan from another synagogue. Torahs are very expensive because they are handwritten by dedicated scribes who are trained in Hebrew calligraphy. They can range in price in the tens of thousands of dollars. “But,” said Martin Small, “the greatest thing about this Torah is not only that it is the law of the people, but more importantly, that it is a survivor. This is a most symbolic truth. Like the Jewish people, like myself, survival is a miracle, yet it is also a reality that we treasure. The value of our new Torah is in its character, not in its price tag.”
Martin Small read from the Torah while his grandson stood next to him holding a pole from the chupah. Martin said later, “My grandfather taught me the ways of our people. His presence is always with me, guiding me through my life. He was murdered along with my entire family in our shtetl in Maitchet, yet my grandfather remained with me through my darkest hours, through torture and starvation, through Mauthausen concentration camp and while I fought for the last vestiges of my people where we made our stand on the soil of Israel in 1948. Now it shall be to my grandfather that I shall return. I wait for him and he waits for me.”