With song and celebration, students, parents, and staff welcomed a new Torah scroll at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County.
During the Jan. 29 dedication at the Marlboro school, the scroll was carried in as part of a processional that included eighth-graders Samara Bohm of Colts Neck and David Vignapiano of Marlboro. The two took turns holding the scroll before it was placed in the ark, as a tallit serving as a huppa was held aloft.
Joining them were Rabbi Aaron Schonbrun and members of the ritual committee of Congregation Torat El in Oakhurst, which donated the scroll.
“Today we, Solomon Schechter, gratefully accept a gift of friendship from Congregation Torat El,” head of school Yoti Yarhi told the gathering. “I promise you that we will think of your generosity every time we use this Torah at our weekly tefilla [prayer] service.”
The school already has a Torah scroll, but it is too large and heavy for most students to carry. The new “more user-friendly” scroll is much lighter, said Yarhi. A new scroll can cost $30,000 and more.
Formed by the merger of three congregations, Torat El found itself with more scrolls than it could ever use, said Schonbrun, who has three children enrolled in the school.
The congregation has given away five others to the Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore, and Masorti congregations in Israel, Germany, and the Netherlands. The synagogue received a gift from a donor, who asked to remain anonymous, to restore and donate the Schechter scroll and another being given to Camp Ramah in New England, in Palmer, Mass.
Schonbrun said the congregation still has 12 scrolls.
“We’re so pleased this Torah scroll has found a home and a family who are going to love it,” Harvey Jacob, cochair of the synagogue’s ritual committee, told the students.
As part of the Friday festivities, students celebrated an early Shabbat, were treated to a festive lunch, and held their Shabbat Shira, the Sabbath of Song, program a week late to tie it to the dedication. Student choirs representing different grades performed.
Also attending were senior residents from nearby Sunrise Assisted Living, with which Schechter runs intergenerational programs.
Calling the Torah scroll “a promise of what is to be,” Yarhi said, “It is about the children in this room and about children to enter our doors for many years to come, m’dor l’dor, from generation to generation. When our community works together, great things are possible. This is a remarkable example of showing kindness and mutual respect between two organizations.”
Students were also excited to have the new Torah scroll.
Cameron Fields, a 12-year-old seventh-grader from Toms River, said, “I think it’s cool because we will be able to read from it. I personally read Torah a lot, and it will be kind of special to read God’s word to the other kids” from the special scroll.
As he watched the festivities, Jonathan Howard, 14 and an eighth-grader from Colts Neck, said he was experiencing “so many emotions at the same time, it’s hard to explain.”