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Klezmer band parades 150-year-old Torah to Capital Jewish Museum

The Torah scroll, from Adas Israel Congregation, is on permanent loan to the new Jewish museum.

One of Washington’s oldest Torah scrolls is paraded through downtown Washington, D.C., to the Lillian and Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum, where it will be on permanent loan, Oct. 4, 2023. Photo by Betty Adler.
One of Washington’s oldest Torah scrolls is paraded through downtown Washington, D.C., to the Lillian and Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum, where it will be on permanent loan, Oct. 4, 2023. Photo by Betty Adler.

A klezmer band and about 100 people accompanied a 150-year-old Torah, paraded beneath a chuppah canopy, to its new home at the newly-opened Lillian and Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum.

The scroll is known as the Gotthelf Torah for Adas Israel Congregation’s second president Nathan Gotthelf. The Conservative synagogue in the District purchased the Torah for $8,000 in 1876.

“The sum was said to take a long time to raise,” according to a release about the parade of the Torah. According to National Bureau of Economic Research data, non-farm laborers made an average of $131 a day in 1876, and skilled workers made $148 daily on average.

Not only is the museum a new home for the historic Torah, but it is also a kind of homecoming. The scroll will be displayed in Adas Israel’s historic sanctuary, which is part of the museum complex.

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