A Torah of Their Own

September 6, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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For over five years, Sydney’s Kesser Torah College has been using a borrowed Torah…but yesterday the last letters were inscribed on a Torah of its own.

Meir Moss, Sam Moss, Tova and Mendy Moss, Agi Moss, Joseph and Gerda Brender, Mark and Rikki Spiro All pics: Michael Berkovits

Mark Spiro and Mendy Moss are the grandsons of Sydney community icons Joseph Brender and Sam Moss. The 31-yr-0ld  investment bankers came up with the idea of emulating what Joseph Brender and Sam Moss did several years ago in donating the Malka Brender building to the Sydney Yeshiva in the name of Brender’s mother when she was still alive.

Moss told J-Wire: “We agreed – why not a Sefer Torah in the name of our grandparents? So nine months ago my brother Chaim Moss who lives in Jerusalem got the project underway. He supervised it, we paid for it and Zahava Ahroni, who works at Kesser Torah, brought it home with her following a trip to Israel.”

Moss added: “We had thought of giving it to the Central where our families daven…but they have already got around 25 Torahs…so the college was an obvious choice.”

Yesterday, more than 200 people packed the College’s new hall for its inaugural function and watched as the last letters were inscribed in the Torah dedicated to Joseph and Gerda Brender and Sam and Agi Moss. Brender and Moss were the power behind Katies, one of Australia’s most successful womenswear retail companies which they sold to Coles Myer in the 1980s. They have a distinguished record of being both philanthropic and active in Sydney’s Jewish community affairs.

Local Liberal Member of Parliament Malcolm Turnbull spoke about of the significance of the Torah and the role it plays in Jewish tradition. He admitted to being an admirer of both Joseph Brender and Sam Moss for many years saying that the stories about them are like legends. He added that their efforts into building a stronger community had in fact helped to make a stronger Australia.

Joseph Brender told J-Wire: “I was very touched. It is very moving to have grandchildren come up with an idea like this and take it to its conclusion. It means so much to me.”

Brender’s grandson Mark Spiro told J-Wire: “My wife Rikki and I are humbled at having had the opportunity to give something back to the community in which I grew up in honor of my grandfather and acknowledging his achievements.”

An emotional Sam Moss added: “I arrived in Australia in 1949…totally alone. Today, I sit down at a Seder with over 40 members of my direct family. This honour my grandson has bestowed upon me is something which is usually dedicated to someone who has passed away. To receive it and see the sun shine in my family’s eyes at the same time can only justify for me what I went through in Auschwitz to survive. It means more to me than I can find words for.”

Joseph Brender watches as Sam Moss helps inscribe a letter

Mark Spiro and Meir Moss with the new Torah and the borrowed Torah

Rabbi Levi Woolf presents the new Torah to Sam Moss and Joseph Brender

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