Painstakingly crafted, Torah scroll arrives on Bainbridge Island to celebration – Kitsap Sun

Posted By on September 6, 2022

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND Displaying his congregations new Torah scroll, Rabbi Mendy Goldshmid takes great care to move it with reverence, to ease it open delicately, to keep it safe and secure. He points out the expert level of work that went into copying each of the 304,805 Hebrew characters that make up the text, the months it took a scribe to do the lettering by hand. Even the slightest error would void the entire work.

Spotting the tiniest bit of fuzz that has fallen onto the parchment, he pauses a conversation for a moment to clear it away.

Its a very instrumental part of a Jewish community, he says of the scroll. Welcoming it to the community is a great celebration. Its a great addition, probably the most significant addition, that you could add to a Jewish community.

Hundreds of members of the Jewish community connected to the Chabad Jewish Center of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap gathered at Wilkes Elementary School on Sunday to celebrate the arrival of the new Torah scroll, a special occasion in the life of the Jewish center established in 2019. Those in attendance watched as a scribe inked the last letters of the scroll and then marched it around in a celebratory parade with music and dancing.

For many, Goldshmid said, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event: People were really excited to meet their own Torah, to show their love to it, to show their connection to it and to welcome it to their life, to their city, to their community, in a way that now its going to be ours forever.

A Torah scrollcontains the text of the Five Books of Moses, which have been painstakingly copied and transferred in the original Hebrew by scribes for centuries. Great care is invested in creating each copy.

Each letter is written slowly, meticulously, to the dot, Goldshmid said.

Bainbridge Islands Alice Langer Acker was happy to take in the celebration with her son, Zach Acker. The moment brought her together with family, she said, recalling those in her own lineage who had been killed in the Holocaust. Her grandfather was one of eight brothers and sisters and was the only one of that group to make it out of Germany, alongside his wife and children, she noted.

This is my family now, she said, reflecting on the congregation and those in attendance at the Torah celebration. I dont necessarily agree with everything, like we all dont agree with our family on everything, but this is my family. I saw my grandfather even though it wasnt my grandfather, I saw my father even though it wasnt my father.

She added: Unlike us that will die, the Torah lives on. If letters become faded with time, theyre lovingly corrected and restored.

Jews from across Kitsap County and Seattle made the trip to the school to join in the celebration over the weekendto welcome the scroll to the community andto its place in the life of the congregation.

During Sundays festivities, Zach Acker, a former Wilkes Elementary student, danced with the Torah scroll: It results in a spiritual elevation and a sense of euphoria that is unlike anything else, he said, recalling the moment. I studied in Jerusalem for a year, and the amount of happiness one can obtain doing these types of events with your community is far greater than really anything the material world can provide.

Nathan Pilling is a reporter coveringBainbridge Island, North Kitsap and Washington State Ferriesfor the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-5242, or on Twitter at @KSNatePilling.

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Painstakingly crafted, Torah scroll arrives on Bainbridge Island to celebration - Kitsap Sun

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