This year, Camp Judaea had an opportunity to purchase a very old and well-loved Torah from a small and shrinking congregation in New Castle, Pennsylvania called Temple Hadar Israel. The Jewish history of New Castle, PA dates back to the mid-1800’s and Temple Hadar Israel originally began in the mid-1870’s as a small minyan held in congregants’ homes. From there it grew to a congregation of several hundred with youth activities and a religious school. However, by the 1960’s the Jewish population in New Castle was dwindling and in 2015, Temple Hadar Israel sold its building to a local business owner. The congregation still gathers in the space occasionally, but decided to sell their one of their Torahs to a community where it would be cherished.
We were matched with this congregation through a partnership with the Jewish Community Legacy Project which is a resource for small congregations located outside of metropolitan areas that have an aging population and dwindling leadership and a desire to insure their legacy.
After we purchased the Torah, it was sent to be restored in Florida through an organization called Sofer on Site. We got some incredible action-shots of our very own Torah as the Sofer worked to restore it to a condition suitable for our community.
The Torah made its way up to Hendersonville before the summer kicked off. The CJ community enjoyed the Torah on two very special mornings during which we celebrated B’nai Mitzvot of some of our campers. We will continue to treasure the new addition to the CJ community and our journey with Jewish Community Legacy Project, and we look forward to many future simchas with our Torah.