We're Writing a Sefer Torah!!
A Torah Is Born - Sunday, May 7th, 2 PM
A Presentation No Jew Should Miss - Sunday, May 7th, 2 PM
You are cordially invited to come witness the birth of a Torah on Sunday, May 7th, at 2 PM, at Congregation Ohawe Sholam-Young Israel of Pawtucket. As part of the celebration, Ohawe Sholam will host a display which every Jew should witness, although few ever do.
Have you ever thought about how a Torah scroll is written? Sure, you see them in the synagogue and you know there is calligraphy involved…but what about the processing of the parchment? How about the precision of the letters? How long does it take, and how do you train for it?
Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Pincus, of Tiferes Stam, will take us through the step-by-step process which creates this holiest of items, the Torah scroll. From the parchment to the pen to the human being bringing them together, we will learn about the procedure which has been preserved, and has preserved us, for millenia.
After the presentation, Rabbi Pincus will actually demonstrate the act of writing a Torah, by inscribing opening letters in our new Torah on behalf of special honorees. This is your opportunity to join in the ultimate example of Jewish Continuity - the recording of our holy Torah.
The story of the Pawtucket Torah actually begins some time ago, though. Let's take you back to the beginning…
Trouble for a Torah
It all began a little over a year ago. The Baal Keriyyah (Torah reader) halted a Shabbos Torah reading, much to the surprise of the congregation at Ohawe Sholam-Young Israel of Pawtucket, also known as the "Pawtucket Synagogue." The man who had been called to the Torah recited his closing blessing, as the men and women looked at their Chumashim (Pentateuchs) in puzzlement.
Rabbi Torczyner asked Noah Hershey, 10 years old at the time, to come up to the Torah. Many in attendance knew what this meant, and understood the sudden stoppage. A letter in the Torah had become altered over time, so that it could be read as one letter or as another. Read one way, the letter would be Kosher. Read another way, it would invalidate the entire scroll.
Those gathered around the Torah looked on with no small degree of concern as all of the letters were covered up, save one. How would Noah read that letter? The answer was not long in coming - the letter was Pasul (invalid); it now resembled a different letter.
Ordinarily, a defective letter would not have been a big problem. Rabbi Peretz Gold has been repairing Ohawe Sholam's scrolls for years, and could easily have handled this repair, too. The true problem began with the realization that this flaw was "Strike Three" for this Torah.
Jewish law dictates that the Torah we read from must be a complete Torah - no letter may be removed, no letter may be added. This helps to ensure that the Torah we hold remains the same through the generations. If a defect is found, the Torah may not be used for public reading until that defect is mended. If a Torah develops a series of defects, then the entire Torah must be checked, from beginning to end - and the Torah used in Pawtucket that Shabbos was now due for such a check.
Ohawe Sholam has five Torah scrolls, but this became the second Torah awaiting a full examination, out of those five.
Ohawe Sholam found an Israeli organization ("Machon Ot") which would examine and repair the Torah scrolls for free, if Ohawe would agree to lend the scrolls to Israeli synagogues for a few years. Everyone understood the need for this examination, and people were pleased that Israeli synagogues would benefit from Ohawe Sholam's Torah scrolls. What would happen, though, if the first two would be sent out, and a third would "go down?" Could they rely on the three scrolls to remain in good condition?
A Generous Solution
Through the generosity of the Pliskin family, a solution was found. This family put up a matching fund for the writing of a new Torah scroll, dedicating their donation in memory of their fathers, Ben Pliskin and Samuel Kashnow, of blessed memory. They promised to match the donations up to a maximum of $25,000, for the sake of writing a new Torah. Torah scrolls generally cost between 25,000 and 35,000 dollars. Any excess money will be used to establish a fund for maintenance of Ohawe Sholam's Torah scrolls.
On the advice of the Orthodox Union and National Council of Young Israel, Ohawe Sholam contacted Tiferes Stam, a company which handles the writing of Torah scrolls. A committee examined handwriting samples and compared prices, and a Sofer (scribe) was hired for the job.
The easy part is complete; Ohawe Sholam now begins the actual campaign, raising money to cover the cost of the Torah and begin a Torah Preservation fund. Mr. Rahmat Noorparvar is chairing the campaign, and has already begun soliciting donations dedicating various parts of the Torah.
Donors may dedicate Torah portions, sections of parchment, aliyos, verses or words.
On Sunday, May 7th, at 2 PM, the writing will begin.
The Campaign Continues
The campaign does not end with the "Opening Letters" program of May 7th. The supervising committee hopes to bring its Torah-writing campaign to different parts of the Jewish community over the next few months. "We plan to run special events in local religious schools, as well as in local assisted living facilities," said Nita Pliskin, a committee member.
The synagogue has also prepared special gifts for people who dedicate parts of the Torah. Each donor will receive a limited edition print, customized to mention the part of the Torah which the donor dedicates. This Torah-themed artwork will be produced by local artist Merav Minkin.
In addition, donations of $1000 or more will be honored with a gold leaf on the "Tree of Life" in the foyer at Ohawe Sholam.
Ohawe Sholam hopes to celebrate the completion of their new Torah on Sunday, November 26th.
Be a Part of It
There are a number of different dedications available for the Torah:
Sefer - $5000, Last Word - $2500, Special Torah Portion (call for a list) - $1500, Torah Portion - $1000, Parchment (Yeriah) - $500, Aliyah - $200, Verse - $36, Word - $10.
In addition, one may donate: Crown - $4000, Mantle - $1000, Yad - $500, Coverlet - $350, Gartel - $200.
To make a donation to the Ohawe Sholam Sefer Torah Fund, please call Rahmat Noorparvar at (401) 728-5417, or call Congregation Ohawe Sholam at (401) 722-3146. Donations may be sent to Congregation Ohawe Sholam, c/o Rahmat Noorparvar, 89 Glenwood Ave, Pawtucket, RI 02860.
To e-mail an inquiry regarding a donation, please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.