A Torah scroll rescued from Lithuania has a new home aboard the United States Navy aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman. The carrier is one of the few U.S. Navy vessels to have its own Torah. Few ships are large enough to need one, said Sam Werbel, an organizer of a dedication ceremony attended by a crowd of 500, including some Holocaust survivors.
“This is not a ceremony alone,” said Mark E. Talisman, founder and president of the Project Judaica Foundation. “It’s about all of us understanding the dignity of human life.” Several Jewish service members celebrated the event, taking photos with the heavy 26-inch high scroll bearing the words of the Hebrew Bible. About five percent or less of Lithuania’s Jewish population survived the Holocaust. No religious artifacts, other than this Torah, are thought to remain of that country’s Jewish population, organizers said.
On May 14, 1948, President Truman was the first world leader to grant diplomatic recognition to the newly reborn State of Israel. Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, thanked Truman with a Torah scroll that now belongs to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. That Torah was on loan to the carrier and displayed next to the Torah that was dedicated.