Cologne rededicates Torah

A Torah scroll rescued by a priest from Cologne’s burning synagogue on Kristallnacht is being rededicated.

On Nov. 9, the Cologne Jewish Congregation will commemorate the anniversary of Kristallnacht – the pan-Germanic attack on Jewsish persons, property and institutions – with the placement of the repaired scroll in the Torah ark at the Roosnstrasse synagoue. Its original home, at the synagogue on Glockengasse, was not rebuilt.

Catholic Prelate Gustav Meinertz, who had saved the damaged Torah from the flames on that day in 1938, returned it to the Jewish community shortly after the war ended in 1945.

The cost of repair to the scroll by a Jerusalem-based scribe was covered by Cologne Archbishop Joachim Kardinal Meisner.

Jewish community leader Abraham Lehrer has called Meinertz’ deed “a perfect example of moral courage.”

“This is a highly symbolic gesture by the Catholic Church,” Lehrer, a board member of the Cologne Jewish Community, said in a statement. “It underscores the good relations between the Jewish and Catholic communities here in Cologne.”

Jewish-Catholic relations have not been without their tensions in recent years, with high-ranking clerics making controversial statements comparing abortion to the Holocaust and comparing Israel’s West Bank security fence to the Warsaw Ghetto. But interfaith activists here insist the ties between the communities are strong.

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