Nicaraguan Jews receive Torah

In the Jewish religion, the Torah is their most precious book, as these writings are believed to have been shown to Moses. The five books of Moses, which form part of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible, are the first five books that appear in the Hebrew Bible. For more than twenty-eight years, the Nicaraguan Jews have been without a Torah, and have recently been the proud recipients of the scroll.

In the beginning of the 1970’s most of the Jewish community in Nicaragua were forced to flee the country when the political stability of the country started to weaken. After the Sandinista Revolution, which took place in 1979, the last few community members who had remained in Nicaragua went into exile. It was during this period that the cherished Torah scroll was taken to Costa Rica for safe keeping.

During the 1990’s, Jews started to return to the country, but the community has remained small. It was felt that it had not been safe for the Torah to be returned to Nicaragua, and the community had to continue without it. The Torah was given to the Nicaraguan Jews by the ninety year old Chana Sorhagen, of Morristown in the United States. She had received a message, an inspiration, to give a Torah to a country that was without. Sorhagen, who had never been to Nicaragua, was unable to travel due to health reasons, but local, Jimmy Najman, was more than willing to travel to her to fetch the Torah. As a temporary solution, the Torah will be housed in Najman’s home, where services are held due to a lack of a community centre or synagogue.

The entire Nicaraguan Jewish community and members from Costa Rica attended the first service held with the Torah. Most people view the returning of the Torah as the rebirth of the Jewish religion in the country. The service and the historic removal of the Torah from its ark, let to parading, dancing and many tears of joy. The community will now seriously be looking at the erection of a community centre and a permanent home for the Torah.

While the celebrations of the return of the Torah lasted most of the day, there was a sense of peace that came over the small community. Being able to have a Torah in their midst is a great privilege for them, restored their pride and breathed new life into their dedication.