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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Torah Dedication

A few months ago, an older couple in our shul announced that they were going to buy a new Torah scroll for the synagogue, and were going to offer everyone a chance to take part in it - people could buy units of the Torah itself (books, weekly sections, aliyot (one seventh of each section), special readings, verses, words or letters), or accessories - mantles, crowns, winding sticks, belts, breastplates. We immediately bought our own wedding parasha (the section read on the Shabbat after our wedding). My inlaws bought a word out of gratitude for their escape. And yesterday, I decided I would buy a word in honor of my Shabbos afternoon women's parasha group. But I'd also announce that during the group and if they wanted to contribute, I'd buy a verse instead - words were $108, verses were $180.

"I vote posuk!" one woman shouted. And so it was. They'll pay me whatever whenever, with any overage going straight to the shul.

After the last letters were filled in, with everyone who bought something standing next to the scribe as he filled in a letter and getting their pictures taken, we turned on the boom boxes and, with the sefer torah under a chuppah, paraded out of the synagogue and into the streets. We'd cleared the route with the police, and walked down residential streets. People came out of their houses to watch, and some to join in the parade, including two of the ladies from my group.

When we got back to the shul, the other sefrei torah came out to meet the new one, and we danced in the courtyard. I made a point of taking Lenore's hands (Lenore and her husband Jack were the sponsors) and dancing with her in the center of the circle of women - she's the "kallah" (bride), after all. And then we brought it in.

Things got a tad confused because all the tables for the lunch had been set, bunched up in the women's section. And some of the women and children decided it was a buffet (It looked nothing like a buffet) and started to eat. Which means they took plates from place settings, and, well, it wasn't nice. I can see feeding hungry kids, but adults couldn't wait five minutes until we finished reading some psalms and set the tables up?

Anyway, that part was over, the caterers, with help from shul people, set up the tables and chairs, and it happened that the seats we grabbed at random were at the same table as our rabbi and rebbitzen, which was a pleasure. We did save seats for other people (using my purse, my knitting bag and my waist pouch), but after awhile, we gave up. Food was lovely - smoked fish, salads, cream cheese plus a hot station with eggs, pancakes and french toast. And the speeches were lovely, with our rabbi being eloquent about poetry and song.

It was a completely joyous occasion, and a marvelous way to start out the holiday season.


That was beautiful, I felt like I was right there! I love sefer Torah dedications. :-)

That sounds like the best day possible. Except for the rudeness that is. Still, they can't take away from the joy of the event.

It sounds like a lovely celebration of something good. A couple of questions if I may, as I'm afraid I'm not quite conversant with any Jewish culture. Please forgive me if they offend, as they're not meant to.

1) I can understand people wanting to buy verses or sections but a word?
Are these words like kanji ideograms, where the meaning of the word is
made up of more than the characters used to describe it, e.g. my name in kanji would not be written as it is pronounced, but using characters that mean it, and then the whole would be pronounced as my name, even if the characters making it up were pronounced differently. For example: the word for 'individual' is written using characters meaning 'one' (ichi) and 'person' (hito), but pronounced 'hitori'.

2) During the celebration, the female sponsor was treated as the 'bride' - is that customary or just how you thought of it?

Actually, I've been wanting to ask you this for a long time - your posts are so interesting and I feel so uninformed about so many aspects of your culture, such as the high holy days and other observances. I'd love to read up more on your culture and would welcome any book recs or sites that could start me off. Thanks in advance!

A sefer Torah is not complete or usable until each word and each letter is there. None of the word (or letters or verses) are specified - we're just contributing to the completion of the whole. It's that smaller units mean more people can participate, both because of numbers and for prices - a child can afford the $36 for a letter (or a parent can afford to buy one for the child), for example, but that will make the entire scroll more meaningful for the child.

As for the wife as "kallah" - neither traditional nor originated with me. A few weeks ago, one of the ladies of my Shabbos Afternoon Women's Parasha Group had her own Torah dedication (along with her husband and family, of course.) We danced around her as if *she* were the bride, so I thought Eleanor deserved the same treatment.

Also, in my old synagogue, we'd do the same for women honored during the annual dinner. We don't dance at the dinners at my current shul.

There are so many resources, and from so many perspectives that I'm not sure where to go - and much of it can only really be picked up by living it.

This is a decent starting point.