On Tuesday, The Aleph Institute (Headquartered in Miami, FL) dedicated the “No Jew Left Behind Torah,” in a historic Torah dedication in the Federal Correctional Institution at Morgantown, West Virigina.
The event was attended by Federal Bureau of Prisons officials and 22 Jewish inmates, along with many of their family members. Also in attendance were Aleph’s chairman and founder, Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar, Aleph staff, supporters, volunteers and friends.
Working closely with the prison administration in Morgantown, as well as representatives at the regional and national level, special arrangements were made to facilitate this unique event.
The Torah is sponsored by David and Eda Schottenstein, dedicated in loving memory of Alta Shula Swerdlov, daughter of Rabbi Yossi and Hindel Swerdlov, and in loving memory of Rabbi Gavriel Noach and Rivka Holtzberg and all of the Mumbai Kedoshim.
The Torah is appropriately named the “No Jew Left Behind Torah,” the goal of which is to give everyone a chance to be part of the Mitzvah of purchasing a letter in the Torah-even those in the most limited of environments.
The Torah will be a mobile Torah that will make its way to institutions and facilities all around the country, to service the needs of Jewish communities in institutional environments. Jewish inmates in all prisons across the country have been given the opportunity to purchase a letter for them and their families, by sending any amount, while many have fulfilled the Mitzvah simply by sending in a postage stamp as a form of payment.
Rabbi Aaron Lipskar, Executive Director of Aleph, explained to all those present the unique opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of writing a Torah by purchasing a single letter in the Torah and the opportunity that the Jewish inmates have in their environment.
At the event, Aleph supporters, the Jewish inmates and their families each got to inscribe their own letter in the Torah. There was great festivity and dancing followed by the traditional Seudas Mitzvah. Four inmates held a Tallis used as a chuppah which followed with Hakafos.
Each inmate will receive a special certificate with their name and the letter they participated in writing as a memento of this special and historic event, giving them a sense of accomplishment that will leave an indelible impression for years to come.
After the event, one inmate at FCI Morgantown promptly e-mailed us: “I’m in my fifth year in the BOP and this was the first (and probably only) opportunity that I’ve had to attend a religious ceremony with my six-year old until I get out (in 2016). I spend so much effort in making sure that he keeps focused on the right things and work very hard at keeping the family unit together and is moral compass in the right direction. Tuesday evening’s memories will last a very long time in my son’s mind.”
The Aleph Institute services Jewish men and women that are away from their families and community, such as in prisons and on military bases. Aleph annually works with over 450 individual institutions across the U.S., serving over 4,000 Jewish inmates as well as their families.
For more information or to participate in this one-of-a-kind Torah, please call 305-864-5553 or visit the “No Jew Left Behind Torah” website at www.aleph-institute.org/torah.