This Shabbat Beshalach, when we read As Yashir – the Song at the Sea, I shared about the historic Torah scroll (from Czech Memorial Scroll Trust) on permanent public display at UAlbany’s Science Library, 3rd floor, sponsored by UAlbany alumni Hedy Bagatelle (’60) and her husband Warren.

Horovice, the small town near Prague where this Torah comes from (looted by Nazis & preserved as part of a perverted dream to create a museum of an extinct Jewish people) has had an outsized impact on the Jewish people. Many know families by name of Horowitz or Gorowitz. Many of these families trace their lineage & ancestry back to this namesake town. One of its most famous descendants is Rabbi Isaac HaLevi Horowitz, aka Shaloh (an acrostic of his work) – see below for a teaching we shared of his on a verse visible in this open scroll!

First – a word or two on what portion of Torah this UAlbany scroll is opened & visible to: The Song at the Sea in Parsha Beshalach.

Why this portion? Possibly due to the unique & visually interesting formatting of the Song at the Sea. Or maybe there’s something more:

See this post for a possible insight as to why Song at the Sea is a biblical passage chosen for inclusion in everyday prayers & that makes it especially relevant for today’s college student, & perhaps a deeper reason why UAlbany’s scroll is open to this piece.

As I write in that post above, the Song at the Sea can be dubbed “The Unstuck Prayer”, a helpful uplifting meditation for those who may feel trapped or cornered, it is an Option C (pun intended) to keep open, when Option A & B seem closed off for us.

As mentioned earlier, Rabbi Isaac Horowitz (Shaloh) has a meaningful insight into one of the Song of the Sea verses visible (upper center column) in the UAlbany Torah on display. It took me more than 25 years to better appreciate this. See that post here:

And a word on the physical location of this historic Torah scroll, on the 3rd floor of the Science Library – but 4 flights up. There’s a life lesson here: The ground floor is too easy, that doesn’t count. It’s only when we begin to ascend, to rise upward, step by step.

Those who’ve danced #SimchatTorah with us over the years know there’s an Abie Rotenberg/Journey  Torah Song titled “The Place Where I Belong” (see the lyrics here:) that we sing late in the night (with 1 correction!). Seeing this Torah on display, can’t help but think of that song (& Kiddushin 66) re a Torah on display!

But the Baal Shem Tov taught that from all we see & hear we must learn lessons, this historic Torah Scroll on display at UAlbany is certainly no exception, with added meaning of where it is from & what portion is on display! May its presence be a continued inspiration!

Another likely Albany connection to this Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust, looted Torahs of Holocaust (many dating much earlier) is this photo: Pretty sure this same Rabbi Samuel Blinder (then WWII US Army Chaplain) was later longtime Rabbi in Albany NY.

US Army chaplain Samuel Blinder examines a Sefer Torah stolen by Nazis and stored in a cellar in Frankfurt, 1945. Probably not same Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust, but same concept. Torahs uprooted in the Holocaust, looted from their destroyed communities… Look closely at the rich Hebrew lettering of this Torah! The letters themselves are so beautiful… and to read between the lines!