Montreal is abuzz about the Sefer Torah workshop underway at Congregation Shomrim Laboker.
After the passing of Joe Miller, a Montreal community leader, his family decided to commission a sefer Torah in his memory, but was looking for a way to involve the entire community. With the help of Rabbis Menachem Posner and Dovid Weinbaum, a unique Torah writing workshop was created, giving children a memorable hands-on experience.
“Thousands of children have already enjoyed the workshop,” says Posner. “Many didn’t know anything about the Torah, what it looked like or how it was made. Being able to see the way the parchment and ink are made, and then to watch a real life sofer write the holy words brings the whole concept to life in a real, dramatic way.”
During the exhibition, participants learn about a special unity sefer Torah, and how each of them is able to participate through purchasing a letter for a token contribution of a dollar. To date, more than 2,000 children have purchased letters. Stephen K., a public school student who participated in one of the workshops had never seen a Torah before, exclaimed: “It was very exciting to see the scribe writing the Torah and know that I am part of this special process.”
Weinbaum is no stranger to such demonstrations. As co-director of Living Legacy in Montreal, bringing Judaism to life for children is a daily practice. “The key is to ensure the kids feel part of the process and are actively participating, rather than being spoken to.” Weinbaum weaves lots of jokes into his spiel and encourages feedback and audience participation. Children love his engaging personality, and are mesmerized by the workshops.
The new Torah is slated to be completed in June. As the joyous procession takes it to its new home thousands of Montreal residents will celebrate in unison, having become partners in the process.