Ventura County Star
Lee Lewis carried the Torah he commissioned to honor the memory of his parents under a chupah — or canopy — as he led a procession Sunday from Tierra Linda School to Chabad of Camarillo.
Ahead of him, Rabbi Yosef Muchnik played electric keyboard and sang traditional Hebrew songs atop a flatbed truck. Behind, congregants carried balloons, danced and sang as they proceeded down Woodcreek Road, celebrating the joyous event and the festive Jewish holiday of Purim.
Isser Charter, a member of the congregation and Muchnik’s father-in-law explained the Torah is escorted to the synagogue beneath the chupah just like a bride is escorted to her husband beneath the canopy.
“Something you cherish, you cover,” said Charter.
Muchnik said both the new Torah and Purim were very joyous events.
“The new Torah is a new spiritual energy for Camarillo. This Torah is very special because it was written to be used exclusively in this community,” said Muchnik. “This one is brand new.”
Rabbi Aryeh Lang said it was very fitting that the Torah dedication occurred in time for their Purim celebration.
“Purim was really spiritually where the Jewish people accepted the Torah, which was 1,000 years after it was given,” said Lang. “So it all fits together. It’s a joyous holiday, and I can’t think of a better day to join these two celebrations.”
Lewis commissioned the Torah about a year ago in honor of his father, Mort Lewis, who died in 2002 and his mother Ruth Lewis who passed away in 2011.
Rabbi Mendel Shusterman, of Chabad of Beverly Hills, helped Lewis obtain the scribe in Israel who hand-wrote the Torah and then Shusterman finished the last 100 letters at Lewis’ home in Camarillo.
“The Torah is written on animal skin by a scribe in Israel, one section at a time,” Lewis said. “Once it is checked and double-checked, then they sew it up together, piece by piece. The last few sections arrived after the majority of it came.”
At the Purim celebration Sunday, Ezra Katzab was swinging a large handmade wooden noisemaker, a traditional Purim custom.
“I hope this will bring the Mashiach (Messiah). We want to bring the Messiah,” said Katzab. “Today is not only the holiday, but we get a new Torah, which means we get more holiness for everybody here and all the people in the world, and everybody will have peace and love together. The Torah has God’s message for human beings, and the Torah can bring peace and love so everybody can respect and love each other.”
Leora Lewis, Lee Lewis’ wife, was very excited.
“This is almost a once-in-a-lifetime event that happens when we dedicate a Torah, and Chabad and the community are coming out for it,” she said. “It is great for the community, and it’s wonderful for the memory of my in-laws to continue forever.”
Lee Lewis said he believes in the philosophy of “when someone passes on, may a memory be for a blessing.”
“Having seen a Torah Siyum (a completion of a Torah) in the past, it made me want to honor them in this way,” he said. “Now, every time my parents’ Torah comes out, their memory is for a blessing. It will be for the community, the congregation and visitors.”