Chabad will dedicate new Torah scroll

BY JILL KASSANDER, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

It was a horrific discovery during Shabbat services last May when Congregation Bais Menachem – Chabad found its Torah had been stolen. The St. Louis Jewish community responded to the theft with shock and sadness. It also prompted many congregations to find ways to better identify and protect their own Torah Scrolls.

Now the community is invited to join with Chabad of Greater St. Louis in celebration as it dedicates its new Torah at noon on Sunday, Feb. 22 at the intersection of Delmar Boulevard and Old Bonhomme Road.

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“The entire Jewish community was touched by the event in May,” said Rabbi Yosef Landa, director of Chabad of Greater St. Louis. “Everybody anguished and came together. Now we have an opportunity to rejoice and proclaim a message of unity.”

The Torah arrives in St. Louis with several lines yet to be written. After the last three words are written the celebration begins with the Hakafot, said Landa. Very young children will receive a soft stuffed Torah and older children will receive a miniature Torah scroll.

“It is customary when we bring in a new Torah to bring all the Torahs from the congregation outside to greet the new Torah,” said Landa.

The singing and dancing will spill out into the streets as the two neighboring congregations, Agudas Israel and Young Israel, also take out their Torahs and bring them under the chuppah to join in the celebration.

The community-wide event includes many activities and learning opportunities planned for all ages. There will be a workshop of Torah writing where participants will have their chance to write with a quill and entertainment for the children. A festive luncheon will also be served.

The last of the 613 commandments in the Torah is for each Jew to write a Torah scroll. One of the ways to accomplish this mitzvah (commandment) is by commissioning the writing of at least one letter in a Torah scroll.

“We are taught that a Torah is incomplete if even one letter is missing,” Landa said.

“That message speaks volumes about the importance of every single Jew: every single Jew is indispensible. Nothing underscores the unity of the Jewish people as much as the mitzvah of writing a Torah.”

The arrival of the new Torah gives the community the ability to participate in the mitzvah of writing a Torah. There are dedication opportunities available starting at $18.

Donors will receive a certificate of appreciation and are invited to inscribe a letter with the sofer (scribe) at the dedication ceremony.

The congregation commissioned the writing of the new Torah when it became clear their stolen Torah was not going to be recovered.

The Torah Scroll and Mantle have been dedicated by the family of Shiffy Landa to honor the memory of her father, Rabbi Zelig Sharfstein, who passed away just a few months before the Torah was stolen. Sharfstein had served for 40 years as the Chief Rabbi of Cincinnati’s Vaad Hoeir.

The dedication celebration and parade procession will begin at noon on Feb. 22 at the Lazaroff Chabad Center, 8124 Delmar Boulevard.

For more information on the celebration and dedication opportunities contact Rabbi Yosef Landa at 314-725-0400 or visit the Web site www.showmechabad. com.