An ancient 200-year-old Torah scroll, which survived the Holocaust and was donated to the Air Force base in Tel Nof, was placed in the base’s synagogue in a special ceremony on Sunday.
The scroll is dedicated to the memories of the victims of the Yasur helicopter crash in July of last year. Six Israel Air Force crewmen and one Romanian observer were killed in the crash which occurred during a joint IAF and Romanian Air Force training flight.
What made the ceremony particularly special and unique is the fact that the scroll which was donated was itself found in Romania. It was located in the cellars of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the communist leader who led Romania until 1989. The scroll was donated by the Jewish community of Bucharest.
“The scroll was discovered in Romania, in a remote place in the former regime’s cellars,” Rabbi Moshe Ravad, Chief Rabbi of the Israeli Air Force, told Arutz Sheva. “They discovered ten scrolls there. All of them were brought to Israel and were examined by the Military Rabbinate. One was found to be in good condition and fit for use, and that’s this scroll.”
“The Torah scroll dedication is meant to commemorate the Tel Nof soldiers in general, and specifically those who perished in the Yasur helicopter crash in Romania last year,” he explained. “The tragedy took place during a training flight in Romania. The IAF conducts such flights in different countries from time to time for training purposes.”
Taking part in the ceremony was Lt. Col. Shai Abramson, the Chief Military Cantor. Abramson, who oversees many such ceremonies, explained that this particular ceremony was especially important and moving for him because he knew one of the victims personally.
“He was my neighbor in Modi’in,” Abramson said. “I met him with his wife just a week before he was killed, and when I found out about the tragedy, I was moved. I accompany, unfortunately, many families of victims, but in this specific case, knowing him personally and knowing he was very involved in Torah-related matters in Modi’in, this event is naturally more exciting.”
“They took a Torah scroll that almost disappeared in Romania, where the disaster took place, and they brought it into the base from which the victims came,” he added. “There’s nothing more exciting than that.”
Rabbi Ravad explained that the ceremony shows the victims’ families how much importance the Israeli Air Force places on perpetuating their loved ones’ memories.
“This Torah scroll shows the families how much efforts the IAF dedicates to remembering its victims,” he said. “The Commander of the Air Force himself came to the ceremony because it’s a perpetuation of the victims of the Air Force. If the Commander takes the time to come, the families understand very well how important this is to the Air Force.”