Senators dedicate Torah scroll to victims of Israeli terror and 9/11

washington | More than 40 senators and many leaders of Jewish organizations came together Thursday, March 25, to dedicate a Torah scroll in memory of Jewish victims of Palestinian terrorism and those who perished in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Many senators also took the opportunity to express their support of Israel. “The Republicans and Democrats, despite all the political differences and some of the election year innuendo, the fact is they share an agenda,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, the Presidents Conference executive vice chairman. He noted senators on both sides voiced support for the killing of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Israel’s right to build the security fence.

In a meeting with Senate Repub-licans, Rick Santorum (R-PA), chairman of the meeting, announced plans to introduce legislation requiring U.S. officials to mention Jewish refugees from Arab lands whenever Palestinian refugees are mentioned in a diplomatic context, while George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said he will propose a bill that would require the State Department to issue a report on anti-Semitism, a Presidents Conference official noted.

Senate Democrats, whose meeting was chaired by Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), discussed the need to implement the Syrian Accountability Act, exert pressure on the Saudis to shut down charities that support terrorism and address growing European anti-Semitism. Clinton noted her support for the High-Risk Non-Profit Security Enhancement Act of 2004, a bill providing federal assistance to high-risk nonprofits, including those benefiting the Jewish community.

Following the meetings, a ceremony marking the completion of a Torah scroll memorializing American and Israeli victims of terrorism was held in the Capitol Building. The Torah, the brainchild of four young Brooklynites — Carolyn Roiter, Simon Jacobson, and Esther and Leibel Montal — who raised funds through private donations, includes the names of more than 1,000 Jewish victims of terrorism in Israel embroidered in gold thread on a red velvet cover, and a breastplate dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We felt we had to do something, we felt we had to make a statement and not just let these people turn into numbers,” said Roiter before the ceremony. “When you see how many names are on this cover, it’s overwhelming, but the only way to give each individual the memory each deserves is by memorializing them for eternity,” she said.

During the ceremony, elected officials were invited to have a letter inscribed in the scroll on their behalf as they watched, and according to Hoenlein, the line was an hour long.

In the coming weeks, the scroll will be sent to Jerusalem, where it will be housed permanently at the Western Wall.