NATICK – Members of MetroWest’s Jewish community gathered yesterday to celebrate a tradition thousands of years old – the writing of a Sefer Torah scroll.
“We have been doing this for 3,000 years,” said Yitzchok Cohen of Natick. “These traditions have been going on for centuries.”
About 100 congregants, rabbis from other synagogues and members of the community met at the Chabad Center for the dedication ceremony of the new scroll. Families who had sponsored the writing of a book, section, verse, word or letter of the Torah were called on to assist Rabbi Moshe Klein of New York, the commissioned scribe.
“It’s a very proud moment because it’s a continuation of the Jewish faith,” said Rachel Bornstein, a former congregant at the Chabad Center. “It represents unity. Each letter, each person, each contribution goes to the completion of the Torah.”
“The gift of the eternity of the Jewish people … has just been actualized among us,” said Rabbi Levi Fogelman of Natick after the final letters were written.
Every Torah scroll, Fogelman said, is identical, down to the shapes and sizes of the letters, to the words originally recorded by Moses 3,300 years ago, according to Jewish tradition.
If any of the 304,805 letters in the scroll are missing, wrong or misshapen, the Torah scroll cannot be used, Fogelman said.
The ceremony yesterday also gave some members the chance to fulfill a mitzvah, or commandment, of the Jewish faith.
There are 613 mitzvot listed in the Torah, the last being that every person must write a Torah, or, if they are unable to do so, buy one or hire a scribe to write one.
“This is a rare occasion,” said Rabbi Fogelman’s wife Chanie. “For other commandments, there are opportunities around the corner. … Many of us don’t have the opportunity or the know-how to (write a Torah).”
The ceremony was an important step in preserving and continuing the Jewish faith, as well as remembering loved ones, she said.
“It’s eternal in that it’s passed down from generation to generation. It’s the same Torah that exists for people throughout the world. It’s the same content.”
“Many times people will get a Torah written in remembrance of a loved one,” she said. “When somebody passes on, people will try to organize to get a Torah written.”
The Torah finished yesterday was dedicated to the memory of Chanie Fogelman’s grandparents and aunt, who died when she was young.
An ornamental crown placed atop the new scroll was dedicated by Allen and Jone Dalezman in memory of their fathers – Abe Dalezman and Alberto Fischman.
The scroll has taken nearly five months of meticulously precise writing to complete. The first letters were written at a ceremony in May.
After the scroll’s completion, attendees walked and danced down Boden Lane with the scroll under a chupah – an open canopy traditionally used in wedding ceremonies. After the procession, the new Torah was placed in synagogue’s ark with others.