Squirrel Hill Welcomes New Torah

Article excerpt

A crowd swelling to about 200 people welcomed, with exuberant music and dancing, the Torah to the Kollel Jewish Learning Center in Squirrel Hill.

Rabbi Zvi Chaim Pincus of Brooklyn, N.Y., squinted through wire- rim glasses and painstakingly wrote the letter "lamed," Hebrew for "to study," with a quill on cow skin parchment.

"Mazel tov," he intoned -- good luck.

"Mazel tov," an assembly of 50 people responded.

And with that, a Torah was born Sunday and soon paraded down Beacon Street to its home in the Kollel Jewish Learning Center in Squirrel Hill. A crowd swelling to about 200 people welcomed, with exuberant music and dancing, the Torah, which was covered with velvet, crowned with gold and silver and carried under a canopy.

"To have a new Torah scroll is akin to a wedding of the Jewish people and God," said Abby Mendelson, vice president of the learning center, which offers continuing education about Judaism. The Torah contains the first five books of the Jewish bible.

The center has three kosher scrolls in its ark but only one, which is about 150 years old, is in good condition, said Rabbi Aaron Kagan, dean of the learning center. Torahs cost between $27,000 to $50,000, depending on the quality of the scribe, parchment and ink. …