Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dancing with the Torah

There's a moving and memorable Jewish ceremony performed when a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) is presented to the synagogue in which it will reside. It is called a Hachnasat Sefer Torah. The occasion is so overwhelmingly joyous that people travel for long distances to dance in the street with the Torah as it is carried in a procession from the place where its writing was completed to the Holy Ark in which it will stand.
It's not unusual to attend several of these ceremonies each year. However, I have never attended a Hachnasat Sefer Torah in the Army until last week.
Voices was privileged to be on hand when the International Young Israel Movement – Israel Region (IYIM) donated a Sefer Torah to the Israel Defense Forces for the 187th time in the past twelve years, thanks also to the hard word of Lt. Colonel Yedidya Atlas. The Sefer Torah was given to the Carmei Tzur Army Base in southern Gush Etzion.
The Sefer Torah was originally used in a synagogue in North America. However, it was damaged or worn and no longer in use. Thanks to kind donors, Gershon and Braina Tryfus and Joe and Rozanne Polansky (husbands, at left) the Young Israel repaired the Sefer Torah and rededicated it for the Israel Defense Forces.
The Sefer Torah coincided with the first Aliyah of Mr. and Mrs. Polansky (above left). (The Tryfuses, above right) And the mantle of the Torah bears the names of those families members of the Polanskies and Tryfuses who worked throughout their lives for the State of Israel, but never had the zechut (merit) of living here. Their deeds are memorialized in this Sefer Torah.
As a result of this memorable occasion, three other people have already signed in to be donors! The next Army Torah Dedication Ceremony is set for December 8th, IY"H, by two families from New York.
Carmei Tzur Base
The Carmei Tzur Army Base is small, but it commands a very strategic point in protecting the road between Hebron/Kiryat Arba and Gush Etzion, the southern gateway to Jerusalem. If Jews can sleep at night in Gush Etzion, Jerusalem, Bet Shemesh and even further, one of the reasons is because the soldiers of the Carmei Tzur Base are on the job.
The sponsoring families and friends from all over Jerusalem and even abroad joined together on a bus as we traveled to Carmei Tzur. When we arrived at the base, new trainees had just arrived as well. They were shown an exhibit of all equipment and their use. We were allowed to view the exhibit as well.
Then the Army band tuned up, and soldiers and the friends and families donated the Sefer Torah marched from the base's gate up hill to the tiny caravan that is used as a synagogue.
The soldiers danced and sang with such deep devotion and enthusiasm. I photographed them, videoed them and danced along the way.
When they arrived at the tiny synagogue caravan, barely 20 people could fit inside, but they stood three across from the very back of the caravan to the front and they danced with pure joy before the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark). The soldiers threw their arms in the air with excitement and happiness. It was a marvelous experience.
Just in case you wonder if the Army really needs Sifrei Torah, be assured that they do. One of the soldiers at the base exclaimed that he was so excited by the donations, because until that day "whenever we needed a Sefer Torah, we had to go to another Army base to borrow one. Now we have our own!!"
For further information: Daniel M. Meyer - Executive Director, IYIM-Israel – / 0544826649

No comments:

Post a Comment