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177http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2014/01/RabbiLyonsBlog-01_17_2014
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 01_17_2014
01/16/2014 07:00 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
January 17, 2014

 

Last Sunday, I sat with my family on the bimah in the sanctuary. Sitting beside us was the Sofer, the Hebrew scribe, who guided us to hold onto the quill, recite a Hebrew blessing, and touch the parchment to complete a letter in the new Torah. Alone with the scribe and in a moment he told us was open to God to hear our prayer and personal wishes, we were emotionally and spiritually moved. Tears came to our eyes.

                The letter we completed was the letter “shin”. The Sofer explained to us that this letter is also the letter that comes from the word “Sh’leimut” which means wholeness and completeness. I knew that, but sitting with my family before the Torah, it took on a completely new meaning. Our family, like yours, has had joys and sorrows, but there was no mistaking our sense of wholeness in that moment we sat together.

                Joan Alexander, a dear friend and benefactor of our congregation and community, completed the first letter of the entire Torah. You probably already know that it’s the letter “bet”, the first letter of the Hebrew word “Bereisheet” which means “in the beginning”. It was a perfect letter for Joan who represented her family that day. The letter “bet” is closed on three sides and open only on the side that faces towards the interior of the Torah. To know Joan and her husband, Stanford, is to know that their deeds are always reflective of Torah. In addition, the letter “bet” is the first letter of the Hebrew word “Beracha” which means “blessing”. A perfect fit.

                As other families took their place on the bimah for a private encounter with the Sofer to touch the quill and complete a letter in the Torah, a picture was taken, a few personal words were recorded, and the event became part of each family’s personal Jewish experience. Following each visit with the Sofer, families entered the social hall to experience meaningful and engaging learning opportunities at various tables filled with crafts, lessons, and experiences.

                Hundreds of people were present and I hope that you were among them. If you weren’t there you still have many opportunities to come to the bimah and complete a letter in the Torah. You can’t imagine what it can mean until you participate in the experience for yourself. Please go to www.cbibeablessing.org and sign up for a date to come with your family to lend a hand and your blessing to the People’s Torah in honor of Beth Israel’s 160th Anniversary. The next date that the Sofer will be here is February 9th, but he will return every month through November 2014, except July and August.

                My sincerest hope is that you will consider participating in writing a letter in the Torah. There is no cost involved. Only if you wish to so, a donation enables you to dedicate a letter, verse, portion or book of Torah in memory of honor of someone dear to you with a gift to Beth Israel in honor of our 160th Anniversary. Think about it. If you’d like help to identify a part of Torah that speaks to you, please call on our rabbis or speak with our Sofer. Consider what you can do to “Be a Blessing” and make 2014 (5744) the year to lend your heart and your hand to the future of Jewish identity and Jewish living.

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