The Loffman Torah

Avraham Abba Luffman lived in the village of Herabacha, not far from Drohitchin in Russia. He owned a flour mill and 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. He wanted to find work there and eventually bring his family. After one year passed, however he went back to Russia because there was too much crime in Chicago. It wasn't 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 famine, but they managed to feed themselves. After the war there was a lot of confusion and pogroms started. 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 (including two married sons with their children) to go to America. He sold everything he owned and borrowed money from relatives.

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

The Luffmans were very happy to leave Poland, but they didn't want to leave without a Sefer Torah. Avraham Abba bought a Sefer Torah with only the first three of the five Chumashim 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 families 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 southeast 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 difficult conditions of farming in a harsh climate. Nevertheless they always had a minyan on Shabbos by inviting other Jewish farmers. They used the Sefer Torah Avraham Abba brought. The Sefer Torah became the centerpiece of the Luffmans' 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, may he rest in peace. His sons continued to care for the Torah. In the late 1950's, the Talmud Torah was sold and a new one was formed at a new location. The Sefer 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 Luffman Sefer Torah. The Talmud Torah had a sufficient number of other Sefer Torahs so Dr. Luffman requested that it 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 Luffman Sefer Torah.

On Thursday, June 29, 1995 Dr. Loffman's cousin, Ben Luffman, arrived in Los Angeles with the Sefer Torah. It was used the following Shabbos at the Bar Mitzvah of Joshua Lintz, Dr. Loffman's grandson. It is currently kept in Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Valley Village, California, where it is read from frequently, often by Joshua and Daniel Lintz, Avraham Abba Luffman's great great grandchildren.

The staff of JewishPath wishes to thank Dr. Morris Loffman and all his mishpachah for granting us permission to share this story of the Luffman Sefer Torah with our readers. We thank the Holy One for directing us to Josh Lintz's Web Page at:

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk


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