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By Janice Crompton Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Hundreds   of   local   Jewish   families got   the   chance   on   Sunday   to   fulfill one   of   the   most   important   mitzvahs --   or   commandments   --   in   Judaism by      participating   in   the   scribing   of   a new    Torah    scroll    at    the    Beth    El Congregation of the South Hills in Scott. "We're   embarking   on   the   beginning   of   what   we   call   the   'Beth   El Inclusion    Torah,'    "    said    Steve    Hecht,    executive    director    of    the synagogue.   "We   refer   to   our   new   Torah   as   inclusionary   because we   feel   that   Beth   El   is   a   congregation   that's   inclusive,"   allowing   all genders and ages to participate. At   a   celebration   that   also   marked   the   last   day   of   Hanukkah   --   the final    candle    was    kindled    at    sundown    Saturday    --    congregants gathered   from   noon   until   9   p.m.   Sunday   to   get   their   chance   to   help scribe the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Jews   are   required   to   fulfill   613   commandments   in   their   lifetime,   the last being the scribing of a Torah scroll. But, it isn't as simple as putting pen to paper. Steeped   in   symbolism   and   rituals,   Judaism   requires   that   a   specific process   be   followed,   including   a   special   handwashing   for   those who     will     touch     the     sacred     parchment,     along     with     kosher instruments, such as a feather quill and a certain type of ink.
By Glenda Garland Wicked Local Hingham Posted Jan 2013 This     past     fall,     Congregation Sha’aray     Shalom’s     president Michael   Teller   told   congregants that,    “The    oldest    member    of our    congregation    is    sick.”    He urged   them   to   help   him   provide a      cure.      He      was      not      ex aggerating   on   age   —   ov   er   250 y   ears.   This   oldest   member   of the     congregation     is     one     of three    Torahs,    the    scrolls    that contain   the   first   fiv   e   books   of the    Bible,    that    the    Hingham temple houses. This   Torah   was   found   directly after   World   War   II.   It   had   been confiscated,     catalogued,     and left   to   rot   by   the   Nazis   before making    its    way    to    the    United States,   and   Sha’aray   Shalom. “It     saddened     me     and     the cantor,”      said      Rabbi      Shira Joseph,   “every   time   we   opened the   ark   and   saw   it,   to   know   that it was sick.” This    notion    of    the    Torah,    the words   on   the   parchment,   as   a liv   ing   being   is   fundamental   to Judaism.     When     letters     are missing   or   torn   or   faded,   when the    words    themselves    are    no longer   perfect,   it’s   regarded   as not   kosher,   as   ill.   Some   Torahs can    be    restored.    Torahs    that are    too    ill,    that    require    too much     restoration     work,     are buried like people…
By Kristin E. Holmes, Inquirer Staff Writer April 19, 2012 The last time Torah No.586 was read during services probably was a few days before the Jews from a small town in Czechoslovakia were rounded up and sent to a Nazi concentration camp. The sacred scroll was one of 1,564 left in Czech synagogues when the people who used them were taken away to die. But Thursday, the 130 year old Torah from the town of Lipník nad Becvou will be rededicated at the Martins Run senior living community in Marple Township while a survivor who read from it during his bar mitzvah watches via Skype from the Czech Republic. "I am very glad that the original Torah from which I read when I was 13 years old is in your hand," Jirik Schreiber, 86, wrote in an email to the Martins Run chaplain, Rabbi Meryl Crean…   2012 2010 BY STEVEN MAYER, Californian staff writer  Saturday, May 14 2011   A visibly nervous Rachel Pufahl placed her hand on the feathered quill just above the guiding hand of Rabbi Moshe Druin. "I was feeling very emotional, very scared," she would later say of the once in a lifetime moment. Together, the Bakersfield woman and the bearded Torah scribe moved the point of the pen on the 150 year old parchment, restoring a single Hebrew letter, one of 304,805 letters in the handwritten sefer Torah… 2011 By Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times October 10, 2010  The more than 300-year-old Torah survived the Holocaust, was later rescued from a deserted Jewish temple in Prague and eventually wound up at a Northridge synagogue. On Sunday, Temple Ahavat Shalom will hold a ceremony to mark the beginning of its restoration. Because of its fragile state, and its age — scrolls this old are a rarity in the United States, scribes say — the Torah is exhibited during holidays and services but is seldom used for learning.  Temple Ahavat will … 2010
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