Congregation Beth Shalom receives new Torah June 20.
Join Congregation Beth Shalom for a very special event Friday, June 20, at 8 p.m. when it receives a “new” Torah donated by congregants Marianne and David Simon in honor of Marianne's parents, Leonard and Nancy Marcus.
A Torah, or the first part of the Hebrew bible made up of the Five Books of Moses, is a scroll of parchment written entirely by hand in the Hebrew language by a trained craftsman. The Torah is read from beginning to end throughout the year in weekly portions.
Actually, the Torah being donated to the Conservative Santa Clarita congregation is not new at all. Based on the information provided by Rabbi Haim Asa, who worked with CBS’ Rabbi Ira Rosenfeld to find just the right Torah, it is actually over 150 years old and had its origins in Eastern Europe. A Sofer (scribe), went through the Torah panel by panel to ensure that it is in great condition.
“Neither of the two Torahs in the ark at CBS are owned by the congregation, but are instead on ‘unlimited loan’ from two organizations and are in somewhat frail condition,” said Rabbi Ira. “To that point, it is with great pleasure that we announce that Marianne and David Simon have generously donated a new Torah.”
Marianne, who along with her husband David, has been a member of CBS for the past eight years, says the idea for this unique donation came many months ago during a casual conversation with former CBS Rabbi Steve Conn, who mentioned that the synagogue's Torahs were on loan.
“Dave and I found ourselves in a position where we could make an additional contribution to the synagogue's Capital Campaign (building fund) since it’s very important to us to help achieve our congregation’s goal of a new building and facility as quickly as possible,” she said. “I had the idea that perhaps we could divert some of our designated funds to purchase a Torah that CBS could call its own. Dave and I discussed it, we called Rabbi Ira, he immediately started networking, and within a few months, we had eight Torahs to review.”
The Simons described the entire process as very educational. Together with Rabbi Asa and Rabbi Ira, they examined all of the candidate Torahs and, in the end, agreed on the one special Torah that will be presented to their fellow congregants next week.
“It was an easy decision to donate the Torah to CBS in memory of my parents who passed away in November 2005 and July 2006,” Marianne said. “I miss them terribly and wanted to do something that would allow their names to live on in the Jewish community. It would have meant a lot to them.”
Rabbi Ira says the Simon’s gift carries with it a sense of history and value. “Torah refers to the most ancient and holy text that unites Jews, Christians, and Muslims,” he said. “The word torah, is rooted in the Hebrew word for teaching or instruction. So, we are also thankful for the gift of torah that we receive from the righteous actions and generous contributions of Dave and Marianne, as well as so many others in our friendly and inclusive community.”
All are welcome to attend this special Friday night Shabbat service. The June 20 Torah presentation to Congregation Beth Shalom will be followed by another very special event on Saturday, June 21, when Rachel Gedalia will have the honor of being the first Bat Mitzvah to read from the new scroll! Each week, Shabbat continues with Saturday morning services at 9:30 a.m. Guests are invited to join congregants for refreshments (Oneg Shabbat) following services.
Congregation Beth Shalom of the Santa Clarita Valley is the Valley’s oldest Conservative congregation, serving the members of the community since 1976. CBS is located off of Soledad Canyon and Golden Triangle Roads at 21430 Centre Pointe Parkway. For more information, visit the CBS web site at www.cbs-scv.org or call 254-2411.