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‘Yad Squad’ trains congregants to read Torah
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‘Yad Squad’ trains congregants to read Torah

Congregant Lori Solomon, left, is trained to become part of the Yad Squad at Temple Shalom in Aberdeen by Cantor Marnie Camhi. Photo courtesy Cantor Marnie Camhi
Congregant Lori Solomon, left, is trained to become part of the Yad Squad at Temple Shalom in Aberdeen by Cantor Marnie Camhi. Photo courtesy Cantor Marnie Camhi

For those who want the chance to chant Torah, Temple Shalom in Aberdeen has an opening on its Yad Squad.

Although many congregations rely on a select number of professionals or lay people to perform the weekly synagogue readings of the Torah, Temple Shalom has now joined those who open the opportunity to a wider pool.

“The purpose was to get post-b’nei mitzva students as well as adults who wanted to have the opportunity to chant Torah,” said Cantor Marnie Camhi. “Some b’nei mitzva students wanted to chant on the first anniversary of their bar or bat mitzva. Some adults wanted to do it in honor of somebody or something, such as a wedding anniversary. It’s been really nice to have somebody chant Torah besides the rabbi and myself.”

Those interested are given a CD made by the cantor and come in for a personal session with her to familiarize themselves with Torah cantillation. Those who have been trained for the Yad Squad chant during the fourth Friday evening Shabbat service of the month.

(A yad is the pointer used by those reading from the Torah.)

Camhi said one group that has expressed interest is older women who grew up at a time when women didn’t customarily have a bat mitzva or whose ceremonies did not include a chance to chant from the Torah.

One of those women is worship committee cochair Myrna Kluger of Matawan, who became an adult bat mitzva in 1987 at the temple.

“I’m 64 now and learned the Torah chanting skill back then,” she said. “I wanted to keep up those skills so every year I volunteer to chant a few lines of Torah. I don’t want to lose the skill I worked so hard to get. It’s a challenge and takes me about a month to learn, but it feels so good afterward.”

A choir member, Kluge said it has become tradition over the last several years for choir members to chant a few lines of Torah during the High Holy Days.

Those interested should contact Camhi at 732-566-2621 or cantor@templeshalomnj.org.

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