Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happy Torah!

This evening we celebrate the holiday of Simchat Torah, which can be translated as rejoicing in the Law, or simply Happy Torah!  According to the Union for Reform Judaism's Simchat Torah page, the holiday
celebrates the completion of the annual reading of the Torah. Simchat Torah is a joyous festival, in which we affirm our view of the Torah as a tree of life and demonstrate a living example of never-ending, lifelong study. Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and carried or danced around the synagogue seven times. During the Torah service, the concluding section of Deuteronomy is read, and immediately following, the opening section of Genesis, or B'reishit as it is called in Hebrew, is read.

In honor of Simchat Torah, here is a music video featuring words and music by Abie Rotenberg, telling the story of a Torah scroll from Kiev:

Does it put you in mind of our own Torah scrolls, and our little wooden shul in Leonia? Rotenberg's song begins with the writing of the Torah by a sofer, a Torah scribe, and to get a sense of how that's done, here is a video called Writing Sefer Torah Ashkenzai כתיבת ספר תורה that shows the writing of "one line from the Torah scroll, Balaq, Bamidbar. The speed is x2, to demostrate how much time it takes and to show the process of writing and making the taggin ( the 'crowns' on certain letters)."

The sofer also explains that "The material I'm writing on is parchment (aka vellum or klaf in Hebrew). I use a quill pen made of turkey feather and special homemade ink."  And while we're on the subject, let's take a look at how they celebrate Simchat Torah in Israel with some amatuer video footage recorded in 2009 in Tel Aviv:

Our own celebration tonight will be limited to the sanctuary and temple grounds, but it will most certainly be just as joyous. Come join us for a Happy Torah and Chag Sameach!

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