Helping fix Broken Hill shul

From left: Devorah and Dr Ronald Zmood together with Ben-Zion and Barbara Erez by their handcrafted Torah replica at Broken Hill.

WHAT do you get when you combine some heavy duty paper from Officeworks, PVC pipe from Bunnings, a healthy appreciation for history, and a whole lot of heart? 

A replica Sefer Torah. 

After 55 years of being without a Torah, the historic synagogue of Broken Hill in NSW finally has a replica of the sacred scroll, presented by Melbourne’s Dr Ronald Zmood, and Ben-Zion Erez. 

The shul, consecrated in 1911, now operates as the Synagogue of the Outback Museum and is also home to the Broken Hill Historical Society. However, ever since the congregation closed its doors to worshippers, it has been left devoid of a Torah – its own scrolls having been sent to Melbourne when the shul closed in 1962. 

That was until Zmood and his wife Devorah visited last November. Deciding to return from Sydney, “the long way”, the couple were eager to explore the town, steeped in mining history and rich with art galleries. While visiting the shul and dismayed by the absence of a Torah, they took up a challenge issued by museum coordinator, Margaret Price to return with a replica of a scroll. 

“A lot of people had made promises to Margaret over the years, but no one had ever delivered,” Zmood told The AJN

“I was very impressed with the Broken Hill Historical Society and its work. This is what motivated me to do what I could to satisfy Margaret Price’s wish to have a facsimile Torah to show visitors.”

“I told her that I would look into it when I got back to Melbourne.”

And he did, enlisting the help of his friend Erez

Zmood set about photographing Bereshit from the miniature scrolls used by children during Simchat Torah. After a little editing on photoshop, and some printing at Officeworks, broomsticks and piping were acquired from Bunnings. Erez assisted with the construction and built a glass display case to house the new replica. 

Erez and his wife Barbara, together with the Zmoods headed to Broken Hill last month to present the new scroll to the musuem. 

“I was honestly quite surprised,” recalled Price. 

“After so long, it really was unbelievable. Every time I walk past the internal entrance to the synagogue, to this day, it catches my eye.” 

Price also said some prayer books were also recently donated. 

“The two items that I had requested for so many years, finally arrived to me in the same month. It gives me quite a contented feeling that at long last, the two items that are meant to be in the synagogue are now there.” 

REBECCA DAVIS