Sunday, June 3, 2007

Torah Restoration

The weekend of June 1-3, sofer Neil Yerman came to my synagogue in Bellingham, WA as the scholar-in-residence for the completion of the restoration of our Torahs. The weekend began with a Friday night service and continued through Saturday morning and Saturday evening Havdalah service.
On Sunday afternoon, congregants joined Mr. Yerman on the bima to compete the restoration of the last of the congregation's three Torahs by writing the final letters on the parchment Torah scroll.
Mr. Yerman explained that a Torah must have 304,805 letters, and if even one is missing, it must be replaced before the Torah can be used. But if there is a tear through the name of God, then that entire portion of the parchment scroll must be replaced and all of the text in that portion rewritten by hand.
Mr. Yerman fashioned quills primarily from turkey feathers.
Throughout the afternoon, congregants came onto the bima. Then, Mr. Yerman guided their hands as they each wrote a letter on the final portion of replaced parchment.
Our Rabbi Cindy Enger had the honor of writing the final letter to complete the restoration of the Torah.
The congregation's 70-year old Torah is now fully restored and will eventually find a home in Congregation Beth Israel's new synagogue when it is completed in 2008.
I was quite gratified to have been able to take part in this historic event and also to be asked to be among three photographers who recorded the event for the congregation.
One of my photos was even published in the JTnews as part of the paper's front-page story by Emily Weiner.

You can view more photos of the Torah Restoration Weekend on my Flickr site.
Click here to view as a slideshow.

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