Ancient Jewish scroll travels to US from Greece

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The 800-year-old Sefer Torah has traveled from its ancient home of the Greek island of Rhodes, via Argentina, to the United States for a yearlong display here. The scroll was unveiled on Sunday for a few hours at the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Westwood. It had survived the Nazi occupation of Rhodes protected by the Muslim Turkish community. It has been kept by a Sephardic community in the Chalom synagogue in Buenos Aires since 1984. Attorney Aron Hasson, whose four grandparents are from Rhodes, traveled to Buenos Aires to persuade the small congregation to allow the torah to visit Los Angeles for a year. Hasson, founder of the Rhodes Jewish Historical Foundation, said the scroll represents the bond connecting the Rhodes Jews, who are scattered across the nation in cities including Seattle, Atlanta and Montgomery, Alabama. «Most Jews in the US are Ashkenazi Jews. When you’re growing up, some people here in L.A. don’t know what Sephardic is,» Hasson said. «The Sephardic are the Ladino-speaking Jews; Ladino is almost exactly like Spanish.» Along with the Sefer Torah are photographs and heirlooms including jewelry and brides’ shoes. «This is the power of this book, the power of connection of Jews all over the generations,» said Dan Harari, a visiting Israeli. Hasson said the scroll would be available for viewing by appointment only until next spring. «The Turks and Jews were very close in Rhodes, very friendly,» Hasson said. «When you look at what’s happening in Israel today, it’s heartbreaking. My family has seen how well they live together.»

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