Celebrating synagogue’s student-friendly scroll
When Sunny Weiner of Marlboro and his brother lost both their parents within an eight-month period two years ago, they wanted to do something to honor their memory.
The long period of reciting Kaddish “gave us time to reflect and reconnect with our Jewish roots,” said Weiner, and he and his brother, Nate, of Newport Beach, Calif., decided to donate a Torah scroll in memory of Gilbert and Sylvia Weiner.
On April 10, about 250 youngsters and adults marched about a quarter-mile from the Chai Center to the main building of Marlboro Jewish Center-Congregation Ohev Shalom, where sofer Zerach Greenfield inscribed the last 100 letters of the scroll, donated by Weiner, his wife Ruth, and Nate.
Rabbi Michael Pont said this scroll stands apart from the other 12 at the Conservative synagogue because it is smaller and lighter, permitting bar and bat mitzva youngsters to carry and interact with it. He said that except for those last letters, the scroll was inscribed in Israel.
Congregants contributed $100,000 for the honor of completing one of the last letters with Greenfield, who had previously made three visits to the synagogue to conduct educational programs for adults and religious school students.
Pont said having the inscription completed at a public celebration allowed congregants to fulfill the 613th mitzva requiring every Jew to write their own Torah scroll.
Weiner said Cantor Wayne Krieger also explained to him that the tikun — the study guide used by students when preparing to chant the Torah reading — didn’t match some of the shul’s other scrolls.
The donated scroll does match the guide. Now students “can read from it and lift it the first time they are called to the Torah at their bar or bat mitzva,” said Weiner. “I think it will be a good memory for them and those that experience it.
“It’s really a win-win situation on behalf of my parents, the synagogue, the students, and their parents. My only prerequisite in donating the Torah was that it be used and that I have the opportunity to put a letter in a scroll that, God willing, will be around for the next 100 years.”
Students joined the march to the main building for what Pont described as “a great family-friendly event, with multiple generations of grandparents, parents, and children.” The celebration featured speeches, refreshments, music, children’s activities, and the scroll’s completion.
“To see all those kids walking over,” said Weiner, “I felt like I was being bar mitzva’d myself.”