By COLlive reporter
The religious ceremony this past week in Tucson’s Young Israel synagogue was a special and commemorative one. Young and old came to take part in the writing of the new Torah scroll.
Although not a novelty – it would be the third Torah the community is writing – the congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Yossie Shemtov, emphasised the unique quality of this specific scroll.
“We are writing this in honor of the Hakhel year,” he said referring to the Biblically-mandated practice of assembling all Jewish men, women and children to hear the reading of the Torah once every seven years.
“While this was done only in the Bais HaMikdash times, the Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged the marking of Hakhel years with unifying events and activities,” Shemtov, who is spearheading the unifying effort as part of his role as Director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Tucson.
The event in Arizona began with a children’s program where they were taught about holy text written a parchment paper, such as the Torah, Teffilin and Mezuzos. The 60 kids got a chance for a hands-on activity, trying their luck with a quill dipped in ink.
Rabbi Shmuly Klein, a scribe from Brooklyn, assisted community members in writing the scroll’s first letters. It will take Klein more than a half a year to complete the writing.
The Torah is being underwritten by David and Felica Cutler and family. A friend of theirs, Rabbi Leibowitz from Flatbush, NY, flew in for the occasion and spoke about the sponsor and his father who the Torah is in honor of.