The Loffman Sefer Torah

Avraham Abba Luffman lived in a the village of Herabacha mile from Drohitchin where he owned a flour mill. He had a very difficult life there. He and his family worked very hard and earned very little money. In 1905 he went to Chicago where he lived with his uncle for 1 years. He hoped to find work there and eventually bring his family to America. After 1 years, he went back to Russia because he thought that there was too much crime in Chicago and it wouldn’t be good for his children. He sent his oldest son Yitzchak to Yeshivah in Slobodka and Fishel to Yeshivah in Pinsk. His other five children were very young.

World War I started and the Germans invaded Russia. There was a big hunger, but they managed to feed themselves. After the war there was a lot of confusion which started pogroms. Jews were attacked by Cossacks, Russians, Ukranians, and Poles.

Because of all the anti-Semitism, Avraham Abba decided to move to the United States. He started to save money for his family (2 married sons with their children) to go to America. He sold everything he owned and borrowed money from relatives.

In 1928 the Luffman's were ready to go to the United States, but because of a change in the immigration laws they couldn’t go. Avraham Abba found that he could go to either Canada, Argentina, or South Africa. He decided to go to Canada. The Canadian immigration laws required immigrants to be farmers which he was, so he leased land from a Jewish agricultural Colony in Saskatchewan.

Avraham Abba and his family were very happy to leave Poland, but he didn’t want to leave without a Sefer Torah. He bought a Sefer Torah with only the first three Chumashim written in it from a widow who needed money for her daughter’s wedding. He hired a sofer to write the rest of the Sefer Torah.

After a few months the Sefer Torah was complete, so Avraham Abba, his wife Zlate, their seven children, and their children’s familys’ left for Canada on a boat. The boat arrived in Halifax on Purim of 1928.

They took a three thousand mile train trip to the Baron Hirsch Jewish agricultural colony in South East Saskatchewan. There they lived in a rented house with minimal comforts. They had no indoor plumbing so they had to use outhouses. They had to overcome the extreme harshness of Saskatchewan winters as well as the extreme labor of farming in a harsh climate. Nevertheless they always had a minyan on Shabbos by inviting other Jewish farmers. They used the Sefer Torah they had brought. The Sefer Torah became the centerpiece of their Jewish life on the farm.

After ten years of farming, Avraham Abba was almost 65 and left the farm. He moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba where he became the caretaker of the Talmud Torah. In Winnipeg, shortly thereafter he donated the Sefer Torah to the Talmud Torah and it was used there every week.

In January 1945 Avraham Abba Luffman died at the age of 70. However, his sons continued to care for the Torah. In the late 1950's, the Talmud Torah was sold and a new one was formed. The torah was moved to the new location where Avraham Abba's sons, Meir and Boruch, continued to care for it.

In 1995 the Talmud Torah was again planning to move, so Avraham Abba's grandson, Dr. Morris Loffman, inquired as to whether the Talmud Torah still needed the Torah. Upon finding out that the Talmud Torah already had enough Sifrei Torah, he requested that his grandfather's Torah be returned to the family. The Talmud Torah said that it was happy to give it back if Dr. Loffman got a letter signed by all of Avraham Abba's grandchildren stating that he would be the custodian of the Torah. All the grandchildren agreed. Now he had the rights to the Sefer Torah.

On Thursday June 29, 1995 Dr. Loffman's cousin, Ben Luffman, arrived in Los Angeles with the Torah. It was used the following Shabbos at the Bar Mitzvah of Joshua Lintz, Dr. Loffman's grandson. After that it was kept in Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Valley Village, California, where it was read from at the Bar Mitzvahs of Josh's brothers Danny, Benji, and Dovid. The Torah was also used by Dr. Loffman's other grandchildren at their respective Bar Mitzvah's. It is now kept at the Lintz home in Valley Village CA.

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