As I sit before a blank page to write my first
column as President of BAJC, I am struck
by the wealth of topics available. Our community
and its many and varied members are
engaged in so many worthwhile activities – local,
statewide, national and worldwide. In fact, one of
my concerns is that we often don’t know enough
of what our members are doing. Our newsletter
provides much of what we need to know– preparing
for the High Holidays, getting ready for the
Hebrew School and adult education, interacting
with the other faith communities in our area on
issues of mutual concern, working on the
Greenleaf property, fundraising, and caring for our
friends and neighbors who may be having a difficult
time. Yet there is so much more.
While I was considering what to write about,
along came an e-mail from Johnny Lee,
one of our Board members, about the condition of
our Torah, which is in serious need of repair.
Johnny Lee took our Torah to a Sofer (a torah
scribe who is also qualified to repair Torahs) in
Northampton, and he and the Sofer examined the
whole scroll, portion by portion and letter by letter.
There is a whole sheet that is seriously damaged
by a large tear; there are numerous smaller rips
and tears, some ink is worn off and some letters
are smudged. That’s the bad news. The good
news is that the sofer was able to discern that our
Torah is probably 150 years old and was made in
Eastern Europe, possibly Poland. Wow! The other
good news is that the sofer let us borrow a Torah
while he further examines ours and estimates the
cost of repairs. The borrowed Torah is probably
175 years old, with almost translucent parchment.
It is much lighter than our torah. We will be able
to use it until ours is made kosher again and
everyone will have a chance to see it and touch it.
This is just one story of behind-the-scenes happenings.
There are many more. As we get together
for the High Holidays and for the many events
during the upcoming year, I encourage all of us to
share our stories and thereby strengthen the
bonds of our community.