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Rabbis and other men clasped hands and danced merrily in a circle down Main Street to lively Jewish music.

The dancers and boys holding torches ahead of them led the Sunday procession for a sacred document carried by other men under a hand-held canopy to its first home at the Chabad House.

The document was a freshly completed Torah — the ink barely dry from a scribe's writing of the last verses of Deuteronomy, the last book of the first five books of the biblical Torah, just moments before at the Medford Community House.

"The ancient wisdom contained in this scroll is the essence of our identity as Jews. Possessing our own Torah scroll is a cause for great pride and celebration. This is like a holiday for us," said Rabbi Yitzchok Kahan, Chabad of Medford director.

He said the scroll represents the unbroken chain of Jewish tradition and survival of the Torah since God first recited it to the prophet Moses on Mount Sinai.

 

It is the first Torah to be commissioned by 10-year-old Chabad of Medford, the second and newest worship location of the Chabad of Camden and Burlington Counties. It will replace one of two borrowed Torahs the Chabad House has been using at services.

"This is so fantastic and an honor to have a scroll dedicated, especially in a rural town like Medford, where there was no official Jewish presence and we weren't always accepted, but it's all different now; they couldn't be nicer," said Barry Tuman of Shamong, the synagogue president.

Member Norma Goldstein of Mount Laurel said she was excited and had "goose bumps" to have witnessed for the first time the writing of a Torah.

 
 
 
 
 
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A new Torah scroll is completed for and paraded to Chabad in Medford. Sean M. Fitzgerald

Paul and Pam Litwack of Medford financed the Torah to honor their respective parents because they felt an obligation to help the fledgling Chabad. They attend services there and at Temple Beth Shalom in Cherry Hill. "We have been involved since Chabad held its first Menorah lighting in Medford 10 years ago. Jews were never in Medford like this before, so this is truly exciting," said the wife.

Her husband called the new Torah the "soul" of the Chabad House, a property it bought a year ago.

Before the scroll was paraded from 21 Main St. almost a block away to 84 Main St., certified scribe Rabbi Moshe Klein of Brooklyn dipped a turkey quill pen into a silver well of special black ink.

From left to right he wrote the letters of the final words of Deuteronomy in ancient Hebrew script on the Torah's parchment paper. The books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers had already been completed for the Torah, which contains 304,805 letters.



 

Torah tradition dictates the type of paper, ink and requires a certified scribe. "Everything is taken into account from the character of the scribe to the quality of the parchment. The slightest error voids the entire scroll," Kahan said.

Every Torah is transcribed in precise detail from prior ones. This one took nearly a year to complete by another scribe in Jerusalem before Klein penned the very end Sunday.

He allowed various congregants from children to adults to sit alongside him at times and gently hold the top end of the quill while he wrote.

Councilman Jeffrey Beenstock offered congratulatory words and Burlington County Freeholder Joanne Schwartz, a Chabad member, delivered a county proclamation standing on a chair above the scroll because the writing room was packed with people watching the scribe work.

"Mazel Tov!" Klein shouted when he finished, the crowed echoing the "good luck" phrase, which was followed by singing and the first reading of a few verses of the Torah where God calls to Adam.



 

The Chabad was then rolled up on its two wooden spools and covered with a mantel of royal blue velvet trimmed with gold.

Congregants alternated holding the scroll during the parade. When it reached the Chabad House, the two borrowed scrolls were brought outside to greet it.

Kahan said one of the scrolls on loan from Chabad of Cherry Hill will be returned. "But because it is customary to have two scrolls, we will keep the other on loan," he said.

That one is 250 years old and was rescued by Tuman's ancestors from Berezin, Russia, after World War I.

"My family would have been thrilled to see the synagogue have its own Torah," he said.

Reach Carol Comegno at (856)_ 486-2473 or ccomegno@gannettnj.com or @carolcomegno

 


http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/south-jersey/2015/06/14/torah-torah-dancing-medford/71233562