Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore welcomed a century-old Torah scroll April 28 with music, dancing, and food.
Donated by Congregation Torat El in Oakhurst, the scroll arrived at the Ocean school after a journey from Europe to the United States in the early 1900s.
Joining the celebration were Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini and State Sen. Jennifer Beck, two Republican legislators serving District 11.
“I am honored to be included in the festivities this weekend,” said Beck. “Strengthening Jewish education should be a priority in our communities. Jewish history is quite rich, and we must all work to ensure it endures.”
Among the speakers was Mimi Zwisohn, a descendant of Theodore Zwisohn, who as a 13-year-old boy transported the scroll to America, where it eventually found a home in his synagogue, Temple Beth Torah in Ocean.
After Beth Torah and Temple Beth El in Oakhurst merged to form Torat El in 2009, the congregation wound up with a “surplus” of scrolls. The Conservative synagogue arranged in 2012 to give five scrolls to those who had greater need, and the Orthodox YJS was among the recipients.
The ceremony began at Ilan High School, the original site of Temple Beth Torah and the longtime home of the Zwisohn scroll, and it ended with Minha services at YJS.
YJS head of school Rabbi Elie Tuchman called for all members of the Jewish community — leaders in particular — to exhibit similar respect for the values of fellow Jews.
“We don’t want to be like the followers of Rabbi Akiva, all of whom died at this time of year because they failed to show respect for their colleagues,” he explained. The event was held on Lag Ba’Omer, which traditionally marks the end of a plague that killed followers of the first-century sage.
Prior to the traditional procession marching the Torah scroll through the streets from Temple Beth Torah to its new home at YJS, Tuchman told participants that most Jewish congregations and organizations in Monmouth County appear to understand and practice such mutual respect. “The transfer of a scroll to a new home is evidence of generosity, cooperation, and respect,” he said.
Other speakers included Myron Samuel, past president of Temple Beth Torah, and Dr. Noah Gilson, Sefer Torah campaign chair.
The closing service was led by Robert Samuel, an eighth-grader at YJS, grandson of Myron and Ellen Samuel.
Allie Hall, director of development for the yeshiva’s Sefer Torah Campaign, urged those wishing to support the campaign and other YJS activities to call the school at 732-663-2929, or visit www.yatjs.org.