A Hakhel and Siyum Sefer Torah celebration took place in the Mill Hill community in London on Sunday.
Near one thousand people of all ages turned out for the event.
Rabbi Yitzchok Schochet, Rav and shliach in the community relayed to everyone assembled how the idea of a community Sefer Torah was launched many months ago, and “the appeal kicked in right about the same time as the credit crunch went into high gear.”
He recalled coming home one day and suggesting to his wife Chani, “maybe it wasn’t the right time.”
Her immediate answer: “Why not? The best response to a crisis is something spiritual, especially something as meaningful and powerful as this.”
Schochet referenced the inverted nuns from the previous day’s parsha and explained: “It reminds us that we live in a topsy-turvy world. When things are in a tail-spin, when the economy is in turmoil, when people are in a state of panic, we always look to the Torah for guidance, for encouragement, for reassurance. This verse preceded and followed by the inverted nuns reminds us that G-d, as represented by the ark, and this new Sefer Torah, travels with us every step of the way, and, as just as the nun is upside down, it reminds us that He is always looking down, watching over us. He got us to it He’ll get us through it.”
The community, which is also in the midst of a £4,000,000 ($7,000,000) rebuilding campaign, got together thirty sponsors to contribute for the new Sefer Torah. Rabbi Schochet and his family, who were one of the donors, made their dedication in honor of the Rebbe. In one picture he can be seen doing hakofos with a siddur given to him by the Rebbe in yechidus when he was a child.
“It was right about this time thirty eight years ago,” he relates. “Hakhel, Siyum Sefer Torah, two things which were so close to the Rebbe’s heart, all of it made the whole moment so much more powerfully charged.”