Reflections on a Mitzvah

by Stephanie Hatton / photos: Ilona M LaRue/Studio Lumiere Contemporary Lifestyle Photography - Vancouver, WA

July 16, 2009

( A year ago, when the Chabad community in Vancouver gathered to initiate the writing of a new Torah for the Jewish Center, I thought to myself – why? We had a perfectly serviceable Torah – albeit borrowed – why would we need one of our own? I just didn’t get it. Yet, the excitement for this project was palpable – almost as if the birth of a child was upon us.

The expense for such an endeavor was daunting and I thought again –how can my meager contribution really make a difference?  Sure, I would be fulfilling the 613th commandment to write a Torah scroll, but all I could afford to do was buy a single letter – an Aleph at the most, and who would notice that?

Then I started to pay closer attention to preparations for the Torah’s arrival from Israel. My non-Jewish friends who attended my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah were so excited about the idea of a Torah being written; they dedicated a portion in my daughter’s name. That’s when I realized the significance of this project. This opportunity was a gift from G-d.

On June 14, 2009, I arrived at the Torah dedication event and felt the room hum with excitement. The new Torah lay on table under a chuppah and one after another, members of the community joined the sofar at the table to witness the final inscriptions. I nearly wept at the sight of my young son seated next to the scribe – a moment that my son would be lucky to witness again. As various speakers stepped up to share their blessings for our community and the new Torah, I observed the rapt attention of the people around me. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we were not going to miss a single moment.

Upon completion of the dedication, we took our celebration to the streets. Young and old carried torches and followed honored guests down the street as they took their turn carrying the Torah and dancing exuberantly to the sounds of Klezmer music. The look on the men’s faces and especially of my Rabbi’s was pure joy – rapture! Under escort and past curious eyes, our community danced its way to the synagogue – the new home for our very own Torah, wrapped in gold fabric and crowned for all eternity for the Jewish community of Vancouver, WA.

This was my day. I felt ownership in this. I took part in the magic of our faith and celebrated my little Aleph – my single letter – and shared an unforgettable day with the Jewish community

Click here to learn more about a Torah scroll

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