Tearful The Repair Shop fans with harrowing Jewish prayer book signed by Holocaust survivors

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Viewers watching The Repair Shop wept Wednesday night as experts were tasked with repairing a Jewish prayer book that had survived the Holocaust.

Repair Shop bookbinder Chris Shaw was caught repairing the item, brought in by Gary Fisher, which had belonged to his Austrian grandparents Emanuel and Gisela.

The couple had been unable to flee Austria after its annexation by Germany in 1938 and at the height of World War II and had been sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

“My parents, they were in a concentration camp and they never knew when their time was going to end, but they had their religion, they had their faith and it must have been a real comfort to them to never give up,” said Gary.

Sadly, many other members of Gary’s family did not survive the camps, but his grandparents did, and when the war ended, they were released with the book.



Gary Fisher brought a priceless Jewish prayer book belonging to his grandparents who had survived a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia



The book, which had survived the horrors of World War II, was in a state of disrepair
The book, which had survived the horrors of World War II, was in a state of disrepair

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Uniquely, the prayer book was signed by the other survivors who were released at the same time, with over fifty signatures immortalized in the pages of the book.

This means it is an important historical document of the time, as well as a treasured possession for Gary and his family.

When the damaged prayer book was first revealed along with Gary’s story, many fans took to Twitter to express how emotional the article made them.

“OMGOODNESS bless this man and what his family has been through,” one fan commented.

While another added: ‘The Repair Shop always makes me cry, but normally not so early in the episode!’

And a third urged: ‘Fix the book please. Dust in my eyes.

Countless other people also shared how the story brought them to tears, and many more also wanted to see how the repair was progressing.



Expert repairman Chris Shaw has been commissioned to restore the book to its former glory
Expert repairman Chris Shaw has been commissioned to restore the book to its former glory

The delicate item was in poor condition when it was first brought to Jay Blades and his team at The Repair Shop, with the pages falling apart, faded and torn in places.

Needing an expert who could handle such a priceless item, book expert Chris Shaw was hired to help bind, repair and preserve this unique and valuable item.

He started the process by removing the staples that held the book together so he could begin the arduous process of sewing the book together instead. This would provide a stronger and more durable form of binding to help keep the book in top condition for the future.

However, even Chris himself admitted he was nervous touching the item near the signatures that are so clearly valuable.

He said: “I’m very nervous not to obviously disturb these signatures, I have to peel the paper off with my scalpel, the very edge of the board to introduce new paper to stabilize the outside. I’m more worried about it than I’ve been in most books just because it’s so epic.



One thing Chris was keen to preserve was the signatures of over 50 Holocaust survivors.
One thing Chris was keen to preserve was the signatures of over 50 Holocaust survivors.

The expert bookbinder then meticulously reassembled the book and restored the cover with fine watercolour.

“I never expected a book to have such a profound effect on you. I can’t wait for Gary to put it back in a working and usable state so the book and all it stands for can continue to advance.

After hours of painstaking and skilled work, the book was finally ready to be returned to Gary.

Brought to tears when the object was revealed after the repair, Gary struggled to contain his emotion as he said the word: “Wow”.

“Oh my God, this is amazing,” he continued. “All the edges, all the corners, they’re just awesome. It’s just a complete work of art. Wow.

“We no longer see the tear and the doors open when we show the Star of David. How did you do that?”

Chris, too, seemed deeply moved when he admitted, “It was the most important book I’ve ever fixed.”



The finished book, when restored, brought Chris and Gary to tears
The finished book, when restored, brought Chris and Gary to tears

He then went further and revealed that he had created a special case to better protect the precious book in the future.

Fans at home were also loving the reveal, with many taking to social media to express their thoughts on the restoration.

“Of course I’m sobbing like a baby now. Such talent and care given to a most precious piece of history,” one fan commented.

With another addition: “That’s what makes The Repair Shop so special, everyone goes the extra mile to restore things. Very humbling, really.

With a third also saying: “Yes, it’s a beautiful repair and that case for the prayer book is beautiful too. Oh, the tears are flowing again.

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