Last Sunday, an estimated 250 people of all ages danced joyously in the streets of Brighton, as a newly completed Torah scroll was carried to its current home, at Holland Road Shul. The Torah, which was started a year ago, was a 50th birthday gift from the community to Rabbi Pesach Efune, who celebrated his 51st today (Wed 14 Shevat/19 Jan 2011).
The final letters of the Torah were inscribed by Rabbi Zali Unsdorfer, son of the late Rabbi Unsdorfer, who served the Brighton & Hove Hebrew Congregation in the 1970s. Special guests included Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, former head of the London Beth Din, Rabbi Yeremiyahu Angyalfi, Trustee of Lubavitch UK, Rabbi Vivian Silverman of Hove Hebrew Congregation, Mr David Chontow of London and many other guests from Brighton, London and elsewhere.
As the final letters of the Torah were completed, Chazan Eli Sufrin led the community in song, while the crowd pressed forward to see the letters of the Torah. After the letters had dried, Reb Avrohom Weiss, London, did Hagbah, and the Torah was covered by a magnificent cover, hand-woven by a group of ladies from the community, depicting scenes of Jerusalem, as well as the sea, to represent Brighton. Nosh packages and small pieces of cloth remaining from the material used for the cover, were distributed to the dozens of children in attendance.
The Torah was escorted through the streets accompanied by live music and celebration, while members of the community took turns to carry it. Sussex Police and the CST ably managed the closing of Lansdowne Road, Hove, to allow the procession to make its way from Wavertree House, where the Torah was completed, to the Shul, where further celebration and dancing continued in honour of this festive occasion.
In a passionate address at the conclusion of the ceremony, Dayan Ehrentreu praised Rabbi and Mrs Efune and Lubavitch of Brighton for its valiant commitment and support of the local community. In his message, Dayan Ehrentreu urged the community not to remain stagnant, saying that survival can only be ensured by continued growth.
150 guests attended a celebratory dinner on Sunday evening marking this momentous occasion and 24 years of Lubavitch of Brighton. At the dinner, Mrs Penina Efune described how she had initially sought the support of the community for the Torah project, while ensuring that it would remain a surprise for her husband. Penina thanked the many who enthusiastically supported the initiative, and certificates were presented to the 20 families who had underwritten entire Sedras. Special thanks were also given to Mr and Mrs Phillip and Susan Conway, who donated the Torah’s Yad.
Personal reflections were shared by Mr Paul Bass, who described the power of Lubavitch’s international network of Chabad Houses. He expressed special thanks for the friendship he and his family have been shown by Rabbi and Mrs Efune, and the inspiration he has received from Chabad and the teachings of the Rebbe.
Raquel Buckland thanked Rabbi and Mrs Efune for their warmth, friendship and support, through good and difficult times. Raquel, who was one of the first 7 pupils to join the Torah Academy, spoke of how important Lubavitch is to her, and briefly described the popular Shabbat dinners at the campus Chabad House run by Rabbi Zalman and Shterna Lewis, where she met her fiancé, Paul.
Rabbi Efune gave special thanks to Rabbi Vivian Silverman, acting chairman Mr Sam Barsam and the board at Hove Hebrew Congregation for hosting the celebrations and allowing the new Torah to be kept at the Shul.
Musical entertainment at the successful event was provided by Mrs Efune’s 11-year-old nephew Yisroel Fehler and a nostalgic picture presentation showed the vast scope of Lubavitch Brighton’s achievements during the past 24 years, while committing to ensure even greater accomplishments for the future.