Phylacteries at South Pole

A representation of Judaica permanently rests at the South Pole in a hole three feet deep in snow that never melts in the Antarctic cold and is thus preserved for the ages. Roy Millenson of Bethesda, Maryland, has placed there the phylacteries his parents gave him for his Bar Mitzvah at the old Adas Israel Synagogue here nearly 40 years ago. The synagogue, now a national monument, is being converted by the Jewish Historical Society of Washington into a museum and library in time for America’s bicentennial as a nation.

Millenson, an observant Jew, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency of the incident today upon his return from Antarctica where he had gone with a Congressional delegation to inspect the National Science Foundation’s station at the Pole. He is a staff member of the Foundation’s subcommittee of the Senate’s Labor and Public Welfare Committee and an aide to Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.NY).

The phylacteries, Millenson said, “have be come worn over the years and my rabbi said that the proper way to dispose of them was by burial. The Antarctic trip came along and I took them with me. I said two prayers–the ‘shechayuno’ and the ‘shma’–and covered them with snow. As far I know, mine were the first Hebrew prayers ever said at the South Pole. The phylacteries are in a paper beg bearing the date Jan. 3. when the burial took place, Millenson said. The temperature at the time was 14 below zero (F).

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