Hebrew scroll to be on display at Evangel University survived the Holocaust

Published: Sep. 29, 2019 at 10:58 PM CDT
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An historic Torah will soon be on display in Springfield.

The Hebrew scroll is nearly 140 feet long and includes the first five books of the Old Testament. The religious artifact was in Poland during World War II and survived the Holocaust.

It will be permanently housed at Evangel University.

Professor of Early Judaism and Christian Origins, Dr. Wave Nunnally, will use it as a teaching tool for biblical literacy.

"These are pretty rare artifacts. This would take the better part of a year to create. It's a privilege to be able to house an artifact like this," he said.

The Torah is said to be more than a century old.

It was a gift from a private donor to Evangel University.

"This is the worship celebration. This is like the earliest hymn book in all of history that comes to us from about 1400 B.C.," explained Nunnally.

He is the Professor of Early Judaism and Christian Origins at the private school.

"Honor your father and mother in order that your days might be longer on the earth, he said, while reading part of the scroll.

Nunnally explained the historic significance of the document.

"It has been mustered out of regular use because of some damage, some irregularities from the various difficulties that it had to endure during the rule of the Third Reich and also during the time of religious persecution," he said.

It also means a lot to him personally.

"I am the spiritual son of a lot of Holocaust survivors, he said.

Nunnally recalled a story one of his professors told him while he was studying for his degree:

"Dr. Gottschalk told a story about when he was five years old and Kristallnacht happened. He said he found himself standing in a creek behind the synagogue and watched it go down in flames. His grandfather, who was the rabbi was picking up pieces of Torah scrolls that were floating down out of the air still burning, falling in the creek. He was stuffing them in little Alfred's pockets. He said I'm preserving the word of God. You take these and go to another land and reconstitute our people and our Torah. He became the president of Hebrew Union College," he said.

Nunnally said having this piece is an opportunity for our community.

"We're hoping to be able to display this along with another items that would sort of tell a story of how the Hebrew Bible or what we often call the Old Testament, came to us through this hand written process," he said.

Administrators at the university are planning an official dedication ceremony in the near future.