Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A rare mitzvah, with great festivity

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My village had a simcha, a joyous event, a few weeks ago.
See? It even says so on the van:
simcha -- joy, emuna -- faith, osher -- happiness
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The van drove slowly through the moshav, its loudspeakers blasting ecstatic religious songs, and parked at my neighbor's.
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A new Torah scroll was going to be dedicated!
My neighbor had paid (a lot!) to have it made and to have a scribe write it.
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Many gathered on their patio for refreshments.
The men entered the house for afternoon prayers and to see the final letters of the Torah penned.
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Then the sefer Torah was brought out under a canopy (like in a wedding) and there was dancing and singing in the street!

The procession began, headed by the lights and music of another van.
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The source of this custom is the Biblical book II Samuel 6:12-15:
"And David went and brought up the ark of God … into the City of David with joy.... And David danced with all his might before God.... And David and all the House of Israel brought up the ark of God with shouts and with the sound of the shofar [ram's horn]."

You can see Jerusalem on the hill, on the top left of the photo.
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We snaked through the streets of the village (population about 80 families).
More and more people came out to join in the festivities.
Many men were given the honor of carrying the Torah, which was decorated with scarves.
Women threw candies on the crowd, to the delight of the children.

The parade stopped near the synagogue.
All the scrolls came out from the synagogue to welcome the new Torah.

There must have been almost a dozen.
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A Chabad page says that
"As the procession approaches the synagogue, the chazzan (cantor) approachs the Holy Ark and proclaims:

'Torah scrolls, on behalf of the holy congregation that prays in this synagogue, you are requested to come and greet the Torah that ____ son/daughter of ____ has merited to write and dedicate at an auspicious hour to this synagogue.' "

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Then everyone stood still and the appropriate prayers were said.

The scrolls returned to the Ark and made room for their new neighbor.
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The men prayed the evening service.
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Like other mitzvah events, the dedication of a Torah is followed by a mitzvah meal.
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Our seudat mitzvah took place at the moshav's community hall, Beit HaAm.
I tasted kubbeh soup, a rich broth with meat-stuffed dumplings and vegetables, for the first time.
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It was one of those nights when you feel really happy to be Jewish and to be living in a friendly little moshav in the Jerusalem Hills.
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20 comments:

Kathy said...

Thanks for the pictures, Dina. A great celebration indeed and what a wonderful reason for a party!

Robin said...

You've never tried kubbeh soup before? You're missing out my friend, it's delicious!

Those parades are fun, we had one through my neighborhood a while back, complete with truck with carnival lights.

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Dina said...

Kathy, glad you like it.

Robin, Mah la'asot? - I thought kubbeh was only the fried kind like in the first pan in the photo. THAT I know and love.

gigihawaii said...

How lovely! I enjoy any reason to celebrate with family and friends. The party looked great!

Patsy said...

Wonderful to see God's word in a celebration.
Today on the news in USA some want to take down a street sign that had the word HEAVEN in it.

Rob and Mandy said...

How wonderful! Wish I'd been there!

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

What a joyous celebration! I can feel it through your photos. Is there a particular reason for the scarves? They do make a beautiful decoration.

Leif Hagen said...

Dina, that was an absolute feast of tradition, music, dance, religious customs, community, worship and food! Thanks for taking us along to experience it with you!

Kind regards from the President of the Jerusalem Hills daily photo blog fan club

Petrea Burchard said...

Beautiful celebration! I've never seen it. I've seen how the Torah is revered at other services, but I've never seen a new Torah welcomed to a community. Thank you for sharing it so fully!

*Honest Abe said...

Amazing event, rich in tradition, beautiful photos.

This is Belgium said...

I enjoy the chance and opportunity you give us to be part of the celebration.

VP said...

I really enjoyed your chronicle of this celebration!

cieldequimper said...

Oh what joy! And you've managed to make me hungry, lol!


Petiote: no, we say petite :-) but in the North of France, in "chti" language, you say petiote or simply "tiote".

Then again, for the masculine form, it would be petit, petiot or tiot...

Kay said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful time with all of us, Dina. It spreads such a good feeling everywhere to celebrate along with your village.

Spiderdama said...

Wonderful post! Looks like a great celebrate. And the food looks good:-)

JM said...

You covered this event beautifully, Dina! Great work.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Makes me want to convert. I've always said if I had to choose one of the big three, I'd be a jew.

katney said...

How delightful! A blessing indeed!

Eki said...

Excuse me for my ignorance, Dina. Does the Torah have to be written in a scroll? What's the significance of it? Can it be bound in a book form?

Dina said...

Shalom all, and thanks for your enthusiasm.

Pasadena Adjacent, you are always welcome to join the fold. :)

Eki, It is good you ask questions about things we take for granted. Your questions force me to think.
Yes, the Torah and the whole Bible are normally studied in book form.
I guess the scroll is just closer to the original form and thus more revered.
I have held a Torah (but in Ashkenazi form, i.e. without the hard case that the Sephardic Jews use) and it is easier to "hug" and love and hold a scroll than it is with a hard book.