Rego Park temple inscribes word of God in new Torah

By Matthew Monks

Children stared in awe at the impossibly fine black calligraphy on the parchment.”I can read it! I can read!” shouted Samuel Iofel, 5, of Kew Gardens. He was among the dozens of local Jews who attended the inauguration of the Torah writing, which will take between seven and eight months, said Rabbi Eli Blokh during the ceremony at the Central Queens YM & YWHA at 67-09 108th St. in Forest Hills. Each Torah comprises the five books of Moses, handwritten in a special Hebrew script by a sofer, or ritual scribe. It is a lengthy and expensive process — each collection can cost tens of thousands of dollars, Blokh said. The Torah scroll is kept inside an arc, or cabinet, inside the synagogue and taken out for daily readings. “A Torah is how a Jew is supposed to live his life. It's a directory of what we have to do to live a meaningful life,” said George Bernstein, 76, of Kew Gardens. “It teaches respect for your religion.”Sunday's demonstration served two purposes: to celebrate the writing and to raise money, Blokh said. Torahs are expensive, the rabbi said, so he decided to petition the community for the Chabad's book. That way, when it is finished, everyone will own a piece of it. He said it is being written explicitly to unite the different elements of the Jewish community in Queens. It will be kept at the Chabad of Forest Hills/Rego Park at 62-38 99th St., he said. “The Torah will be part of the community,” Blokh said, later adding that “it creates a certain energy, a certain unity, a certain sense of community.' Volfson Eva, 67, of Kew Gardens, brought her two grandchildren to the event. “I want to show it to my children because it's interesting for them to see how a real Torah is written,” she said. “Both of them can read Hebrew.” Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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