Brandeis Hillel finds Torah on eBay

“There’s nothing bigger than a community owning its own Torah,” he explained. “It means it’s stable and it’s going to be there.”

He placed his bid for merely one penny higher than the asking price. Though he would not divulge what he and his friend Judy Ehrman paid, he did say it was “six or seven times less than one might anticipate.” Torahs generally run between $20,000 to $30,000, he said.

And so he waited for the auction to end, logging on continually for five straight days, asking all sorts of questions about the Torah to the seller, a religious man in Jerusalem.

He learned it was written in Romania sometime between 1800 and 1850, that it remained untouched in a synagogue during the Holocaust and was donated to a shul in Jerusalem right around the same time Brandeis opened its first San Francisco campus in the 1960s.

Five days went by and Shreibman was shocked and relieved that no one outbid him.

Now with the Torah in his possession, it’s even better than he could have imagined. It’s close to being entirely kosher, with only one tear, “and the tear is not even inside the text,” he said. As for the text, “it is breathtaking,” embellished with ornate crowns and occasional long curlicues and tails.

It’s also a small, mobile size, only about 2-1/2-feet high when dressed, which is “advantageous for Brandeis in that children can easily carry her, and form relationships with her.”

He said the Torah will be present at Simchat Torah celebrations on both the San Rafael and San Francisco campuses this weekend and will be officially introduced Tuesday at the chanukat habayit celebration in San Francisco.

It will officially live in the ark in the beit midrash (house of worship) of the San Francisco campus.


Aleza Goldsmith

Aleza Goldsmith is a former J. staff writer.