The Write Stuff
The Torah is our light and the length of our days. But how exactly is a Torah created? How long does it take to write one? What if you make a mistake? What makes a Torah kosher or pasul?
All these and other fascinating questions were answered for our students by Rabbi Gustavo Surazski of Ashkelon’s Kehillat Netzach Israel Synagogue on Sunday morning, November 23, 2014, at a special Sofer Program held at Israel Center of Conservative Judaism.
Rabbi Surazski is the brother of Silvia Kogan, who made the day’s event possible, and the brother-in-law of Rabbi Manes Kogan of Hillcrest Jewish Center. He was gracious enough to share his expertise as a sofer, or scribe, with the students, staff, and parents of our school and enlighten us as to what is involved in producing a Torah. The parchment upon which a Torah is written is made from kosher animal skin, ranging from sheep, to deer, to goat. The ink which is utilized must also be kosher and the writing implement used is a quill from a kosher bird, often a turkey. A Torah consists of sixty-three panels, which are sewn together with animal sinew. If a mistake is made in a word or a letter is drawn wrong, there is a means by which the ink can be lifted off the parchment and redone correctly. However, if there is a mistake in the writing of God’s name, the panel must be removed and buried since it is forbidden to erase God’s name.
It takes Rabbi Surazski approximately twelve months to pen an entire Torah. With modern technologically, a computer is used to scan the document to make certain there are no errors. This gives the sofer an extra assurance that the Torah is perfect. Although a Torah is spiritually priceless, physically it has a price and the monetary value can vary by thousands of dollars. It must be remembered that a sofer dedicates at least a year of his or her life to creating a work of perfection, which makes it so costly.
At the program, every child was given a piece of specially lined paper and shown how to write letters as they are inscribed in the Torah. At the conclusion of the program, everyone thanked Rabbi Surazski for teaching us about this unique form of religious calligraphy. We were also able to thank the rabbi in another way, for it is the children of Rabbi Surazski’s synagogue in Ashkelon who are the recipients of our “Turn Halloween Into Purim” costumes.
Hanukkah Happening Hilarity
This year, Ohr Chadash’s Hanukkah Program shone extra bright with merriment. Len Levitt, whose “Levity Puppets” production company was responsible for the hilarious Purim Program we enjoyed at Hollis Hills Jewish Center in the spring, presented a delightful Hanukkah celebration for teachers, students, and their families at ICCJ on Sunday morning, December 14, 2014.
Following the show, our children got the audience in a Festival of Lights mood by rousing everyone in song with numerous standards of the season. Tasty refreshments rounded out an extremely enjoyable morning. Additionally, holiday shopping was available in the Smorg Room thanks to the Ohr Chadash PTA and the Sisterhood of ICCJ.