Shalom Life | May 29, 2015

Iraqi Torah Scrolls Buried in New York

Discovered amidst 2,700 books in a flooded Iraqi intelligent building in 2003, the damaged Torah scrolls have, in accordance with Jewish law, received a religious burial at a New York cemetery

By: Daniel Koren

Published: December 17th, 2013 in News » World

Iraqi Torah Scrolls Buried in New York

Among over 2,700 books, documents, and texts, damaged Torah scrolls were discovered in the basement of an Iraqi intelligence building in 2003.

Now, a decade later, the scrolls have been buried in a religious ceremony held at a New York cemetery, in accordance with Jewish law; with any sacred objects unfit for use, the correct way to dispose of them is commonly with a burial.

"This project is somewhat reflective of the new Iraq," said Iraqi ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, of the burial. "We are saying we would like to share and preserve the history and the heritage of the Jews, of the Christians, of the Muslims."

The scrolls were found in May of 2003, as Saddam Hussein's regime was coming to an end. American troops discovered them in the basement of a building in Baghdad, which was severely damaged by explosions and the havoc that reeked the area.

Maurice Sholet, President of the World Organization of Jews from Iraq, approved of the burial, as the Torah scrolls were covered with mold and would not be able to be used properly. They speak volumes of the Jewish community that once thrived in Iraq before Israel became a state in 1948.

Approximately 120 people showed up for the service at New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon, Long Island.

"This is a statement by the government and people of Iraq that we are here to respect the heritage of the Jews," said Faily during the service.

The remainder of the books discovered will reportedly be sent back to Iraq; New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage has announced that they will display some of the artifacts in an exhibition from February 4th to May 18th.

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