Torah Scroll Survived Holocaust Despite Complete Annihilation of Lomza's Jewish Population: Event Will Honor Late Chicago Judge Who Rescued the Scroll & Will Fulfill His Dream of Restoration to Jewish Community

Sep 22, 2011, 18:19 ET from Congregation Bnei Ruven

CHICAGO, Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Sunday, October 9th, a Torah scroll with a remarkable history will be completed in memory of Judge Gerald C. Bender and in honor of the heroic measures he took to rescue the scroll from permanent oblivion.  Special guest speakers—the Honorable Abner J. Mikva and the Honorable Robert E. Gordon—will join with Congregation Bnei Ruven and the Bender Family in welcoming the community to a celebratory event that will culminate with the scroll's restoration to its rightful place—back within the synagogue, as Judge Bender dreamed.        

In addition to his roles as a very prominent judge and community leader, Judge Bender dedicated much of his life and work to finding peace, healing, and justice for the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.  He felt a deep connection with the small city of Lomza, Poland—his father's birthplace.  Tragically, the city stood directly in the path of Adolf Hitler's army as it marched on Russia in 1941.  His grandmother, numerous uncles, aunts and cousins were murdered by Nazi troops along with all of the 7000 other remaining Jews of Lomza.  

When Judge Bender learned of a World War I-era Torah scroll that had just reemerged in Lomza—having been hidden in a wall as Nazi troops descended so long ago—he made it his mission to have it rescued and restored.  After a long and arduous journey involving government obstacles, extensive travel, and the advice of numerous scholars and scribes, Judge Bender acquired and began restoring the scroll he described as having been "crying for a long time to get back into Jewish hands."

Judge Bender passed away before the scroll could be completed.  However on October 9th, the community will gather at 12:00 p.m. at Shallot's Bistro in Skokie in celebration of his life and in fulfillment of his dream.  A scribe will help attendees complete the Torah, followed by a car procession to Bnei Ruven where it will be welcomed into the synagogue.  For more information, to attend, or for sponsorship opportunities, please visit or call the Bnei Ruven office at (773) 743-5434 or Rabbi Baruch Hertz directly at (773) 662-6743.  Endowments of portions of the Torah will fund vital Bnei Ruven community programming that was of great personal importance to Judge Bender, including social services and educational initiatives.

Rabbi Baruch Hertz  (773) 662-6743
Amanda Swart  (773) 743-5434
Congregation Bnei Ruven
Fax:  (773) 743-3446

SOURCE Congregation Bnei Ruven