It was wrinkled, soaked with mud, smelled moldy. For Rabbi Emmanuel Vinas, it was a godsend, "a dream come true for me." The Jewish family life education director at the JCC on the Hudson in Tarrytown is using the 150-year-old sefer Torah heavily damaged in November during flooding caused by Hurricane Mitch as the center of a communitywide learning program.
Eleven days in Germany provided an education for teachers who teach about the Holocaust. The group of 28 educators from Westchester and Rockland counties visited schools and memorials recently to observe how the genocide of World War II is taught in the land where it began.
It was a trip marked by changes.
Some of the teachers said their view of Germany — and of contemporary Germans — was changed by meetings with teachers and students. Others said they will bring a new perspective to their classrooms.
A former Westchester couple and their Torah scroll, each with roots in Russia, have new homes now. Edward and Renee Mendell, former residents of New Rochelle and South Salem, settled in London, Renee’s hometown, after Edward retired from the pharmaceuticals industry in 1986.
They recently donated their own sefer Torah, which they serendipitously acquired in Israel, to the Jewish Family Congregation in South Salem. The couple, who have sold their home in New Canaan, Conn., near the Westchester border, are co-founders of the Reform synagogue.