Graduate students give Torah to West Chester University

April 9, 2013 7:05:42 AM PDT
Two graduate students are giving a Torah to West Chester University, and it is a gift with an extraordinary story.

It is the story of a Torah that triumphed over time and evil.

A parchment scroll bearing the Hebrew script of one of the 5 Books of Moses, 5 panels that outlasted the Nazis, and the people who hid them who may have paid for it with their lives.

Hadassah DeJack said, "It is a testament to the triumph of the Human spirit."

Hadassah DeJack and Hilary Bentman are graduate students at West Chester University.

They were on an educational trip focused on the Holocaust back in 2012 that took them to Warsaw, Poland.

Poland is the country where 3 million people were murdered during WWII at the hands of the Nazi's madness, all because they were Jewish.

"I can't help thinking about the people who read from it and the people who heard it, chanted in their synagogues and where they ended up and how this survived and so many of them did not," said Hillary Bentman.

The two women acquired the Torah from an antiquities dealer who carried a mixture of Judaic and Nazi paraphernalia.

"He had related to us a story that a gentleman had discovered it in the wall of his home," explained Hilllary.

The Torah had been hidden from the Nazis as they pillaged Jewish neighborhoods. The dealer wanted $1500 for the panels.

Hadassah and Hillary had to scrape the money between them and the other students who were on the trip.

Hadassah added, "I look at this and know how rare it is, that a Torah scroll was to survive in Poland because they were being destroyed and for us to be able to find this, far after the Holocaust has past, is remarkable. It's miracle."

The graduate students are dedicating the Torah to the university on Monday's Holocaust Remembrance Day.

They hope it will serve as an important educational tool.

"Knowing what can happen when hatred runs rampant and bigotry and prejudice are allowed to continue. To study and to teach others and that's the point of this program and that's the point of this scroll," said Hillary.