April 13, 2024
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Ohr Saadya Will Celebrate Hachnasat Sefer Torah March 15

Last year, Dr. Yaakov Abdelhak, a founding member of Congregation Ohr Saadya, decided it was time for Ohr Saadya to own a Torah of its own. “The shul has accumulated Torahs from other shuls or private possessions of shul members over the years. I thought it would be nice for the shul to own its own Torah and I really feel that something as sacred as a Torah should live and be permanently in the shul,” Abdelhak told The Jewish Link.

Once he made the decision, he knew exactly who to turn to for the writing of the Torah. Abdelhak has a first cousin, Rabbi Meir Peretz, who lives in Eretz Yisrael. He is a teacher who also is a sofer. By commissioning his cousin, he was able to help his cousin earn a parnassah and at the same time include him in honoring their shared grandparents.

“The shul is named after my grandfather—my mother’s father—Saadya Mamane, who was also Meir’s grandfather” shared Abdelhak. “This new Torah will be dedicated in memory of both our grandfather and our grandmother. It will be a very memorable day for my family. My mother and my cousin Meir and his wife will be with me and my family.”

Commissioning a Torah turned out to be a much bigger undertaking than Abdelhak originally realized. But like the family that it is, different members of the shul stepped in to assist. Rabbi Daniel Feldman, rabbi of Ohr Saadya, was in touch with the sofer, reviewed different samples of the ktav, ensured that the Torah went through multiple checks and even met with Peretz on a trip to Israel.

Rabbi Dr. Zalman Levine, a regular shul baal koreh, also reviewed the pictures and the images of the ktav to sign off on it. Jack Markowitz, president of the shul, guided Abdelhak on the mantel and atzei chaim for the Torah and organized the hachnasat sefer Torah.

“I would have been happy to just bring the Torah to the shul and put it in the aron, but Jack insisted that we have a proper welcoming of the Torah,” said Abdelhak.

According to Rabbi Yair Hindin, a member of Ohr Saadya, “Most shuls have Torahs on loan. What is so amazing is that Dr. Abdelhak is ‘giving’ this new sefer Torah to the shul. He is also flying his cousin and his wife in to be here for the hachnasat sefer Torah and be here to complete the Torah.”

Markowitz reflected, “All the Torahs in the shul will be brought out to greet the new sefer Torah, reminiscent of a chatan coming out to greet his kallah at the chuppah. And that is why we will accompany the new Torah to its new home at Ohr Saadya under a chuppah. It brings the entire community together. It’s not just a family simcha, it’s a community-wide simcha and we encourage everyone to come.”

On Sunday, March 15, the entire community is invited to a hachnasat sefer Torah to welcome the new Torah into the shul. The event will begin at the Abdelhak home, 287 Herrick Avenue, at 9:30 a.m. The sofer has left 100 letters unfinished so that attendees can complete a letter and participate in the mitzvah.

The honor of the filling in the last letter is reserved for Rabbi Feldman. Once completed, the new Torah will be wrapped in its new mantel and then accompanied by a musical truck; the Torah will be danced to its new home at Ohr Saadya underneath a chuppah. At the shul there will be a seudat mitzvah and a short program. Rabbi Bezalel Rudinsky, rabbi of Kahal Ahavas Yitzchok and rosh hayeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr Reuven in Monsey, will address the gathering and share words of Torah. There will also be a special program for the children.

Rabbi Feldman told The Jewish Link, “There are so many elements that converge in this fantastic simcha: the creation of a new Torah scroll, the addition of a great item of holiness to our synagogue, the generosity of our members, the connecting of family both literal and figurative, the opportunity to honor individuals known for great kindness and communal service, and a celebration of community in all its forms with the Torah at its center. It is an exhilarating event.”

Anyone interested in completing a letter or dedicating a parsha or sefer should visit https://www.ohrsaadya.org/form/hachnasas_sefer_torah.html. Congregation Ohr Saadya is located at 554 Queen Anne Road in Teaneck. For additional information, email [email protected].

By Sara Kosowsky Gross

 

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