|Parochet (Ark curtain) from
Holland, was a vibrant Jewish community in pre-World War II Europe. Together
with the surrounding villages it was home to 140,000 Jews. During the Holocaust
105,000 people from the community perished.
During World War II, members of the
gentile community preserved the synagogue that had been built in the 19th
Century. The synagogue’s interior fittings, silver artifacts, three Torah
scrolls and mantels, the finials, the hand washing sink for Cohanim, the
ark and its cloth curtain, and the bima were all saved.
now these treasured objects, witness to the darkest chapter of our history,
are being used by the children of AMIT’s
Kfar Batya school in Raanana, Israel.
At AMIT’s Kfar Batya school campus,
the synagogue serves as a central location for its students. Together, they
pray there three times a day.
Kfar Batya began as a youth village
in 1947, absorbing and educating immigrants to Israel from Eastern and Western
Europe, North Africa, Asia and North and South America as well as native
Israelis. Today, the Kfar Batya campus educates elementary through high school
age students who live at home or in the Kfar Batya dormitories.
The relationship between Leeuwarden
and Kfar Batya can be attributed to Dr. Nathan Dasberg, a native of Leeuwarden
and later principal of the Kfar Batya High School. It was his suggestion
to the community of Dutch survivors and the citizens of Leeuwarden that the
remnants from the synagogue find a new home in Kfar Batya.
|Kfar Batya students in the
the 1960s, members of the Dutch Genealogy organization, who were survivors
of the Leeuwarden Jewish community, made an emotional visit to Kfar Batya.
They knew immediately that Kfar Batya could be a home for the remnants of
the synagogue that had once been the center of their Jewish life in Leeuwarden.
Since the artifacts’ arrival in Kfar Batya in 1965, the synagogue has been
in constant use.
While the 1600 students on the campus
benefit from the historic synagogue, the room and ritual objects show the
wear and tear of daily use.
On a recent visit to Kfar Batya, the
Dutch Genealogy Organization decided to undertake the responsibility for
the restoration and refurbishment of the artifacts.
Dr. Sander DuParc, president of the
Leeuwarden Jewish Community Fund pointed out: “A synagogue on campus helps
build a connection to the past. It reminds the students of their roots.”
DuParc is a Holocaust survivor himself. He recalls that his great grandfather
was the synagogue secretary and that his relatives donated some of the silver
Today the synagogue is restored and
the Jews of Leeuwarden will not be forgotten. Their legacy lives on at the
AMIT Kfar Batya campus in Raanana, Israel.
Text by M. Kaplan-Green.
Photos by Joe Malcolm