Torah dedication at B’nai Avraham celebrates family and life
The joy of a wedding poured out onto the streets of Brooklyn Heights on Sunday, with the bride adorned in deep, vivid colors of velvet. The groom was the people of Congregation B’nai Avraham, the neighborhood’s first Orthodox synagogue, and the bride was the Torah.
Zvi Mor and his family donated the Torah in memory of Mor’s brother, Chaim, who died childless two years ago at age 69. “Chaim means LIFE,” he told the Heights Press on Sunday during the event.
Likewise, Rabbi Aaron Raskin, spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Avraham and a Chabad Chassid, said, “Having a good name is better than having good children. Therefore, there can be no greater way to perpetuate one’s name than by dedicating a gift of Torah that will be in the shul at all times, and that will be read over and over again. And every time the Torah is read, and people are called to make Aliyah and read the Torah, it will be perpetuated again and again.”
The scribal work for the five brand new Torah scrolls, one for each of the Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) began before Chaim’s death. The Torah gift is “a way of keeping my brother alive,” said Zvi Mor. “This Torah gives eternal life to the dead person forever.”
The celebration began with a procession, under a chuppah, or traditional wedding canopy, as members of the family who donated the Torah scrolls carried them around the block, from Remsen, to Clinton and Montague streets.
At one point, a young man sitting in Starbucks on Montague saw the Torah procession, and ran out of the store. Identifying himself as Mendy, he told the Eagle, “An Orthodox Jew, when he sees the Torah, has to run over and take part. This is a mitzvah. I literally jumped, almost knocked my coffee over. I did not know about this in advance. I was just sitting there, and saw the Torah, and ran out.” He joined the group returning to the synagogue on Remsen.
“Chaim, or Life, is the other name for the Torah,” said Rabbi Raskin.
The dedication of new Torah scrolls in Jewish tradition carries the same joy as a wedding, explains Rabbi Raskin.
“The Torah becomes the Bride and we become the groom. Today we marry the Torah. That’s the reason we have the huppah (Canopy) outside, because today the Torah is getting married. And we, the groom, are responsible to take care of the Torah. We’ve to give it food and water and clothing and shelter, and joy.” He explained, marrying the Torah means not taking her for granted. “L’Chaim! (To Life!) Read it every day of our lives, live it with joy. Those people who lie in the dust will rise and sing, and L’Chaim will come back and truly be alive with us for ever and ever,” said Rabbi Raskin.
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