Earlier this week, Israeli firefighters received a call to rush to a burning building in the northern town of Neharia. When they arrived at the scene, they were relieved to learn that no people were trapped inside the building. But they were also dismayed to learn that the building was a synagogue.
One firefighter in particular was touched: Weam Nevuani, a veteran Druze firefighter, observed the towering flames and thought that every effort ought to be made to rescue the sacred objects inside.
“As I was working,” he told Israeli TV, “I saw a Torah scroll about to catch fire. I jumped on it right away and dragged it out of the burning building. As I was rescuing the Torah scroll I felt as if I was holding a soul, as if I was rescuing a soul, as if I was holding a baby.”
When asked if he was not afraid to succumb to the fire and the smoke, Nevuani again said he felt drawn to the Torah and obliged to save it at all cost. “The scroll radiated heat that truly touched my heart,” he said. “And for a few moments there, I thought of what was written in that scroll, and I realized I did exactly what I was supposed to do.”
Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.