Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Lawrence Chabad Center Celebrates Torah Scroll ; Specially Commissioned Scroll Sacred in Judaism

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Lawrence Chabad Center Celebrates Torah Scroll ; Specially Commissioned Scroll Sacred in Judaism

Article excerpt

This year's Passover observance in Lawrence will be extra special, as it marks the first holiday when the Jewish community in this Douglas County city will have its very own Torah scroll, considered the most sacred object in Judaism.

The Torah scroll was commissioned by the Chabad Center for Jewish Life at The University of Kansas. The organization is part of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, regarded as the largest Jewish outreach organization in the world.

The Torah scroll contains the five books of Moses -- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy -- with each letter of each word hand-written to exacting standards by a specially trained scribe, who spent months working on the project.

When completed, a Torah scroll contains between 62 and 84 sheets of parchment-cured pages and exactly 304,805 letters.

Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, director of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Lawrence, said "everything from the character of the scribe to the quality of the parchment and type of ink" are taken into account when commissioning a Torah scroll.

Great precision is required of the scribe who writes the Torah scroll, as the "slightest error" voids the entire 54-portion parchment.

A Torah scroll is a sacred object for Jewish congregations, in large part because of the time and care that go into its production.

"It means a lot," Tiechtel said. "To some extent, a Jewish community isn't complete without its own Torah scroll."

The completed Torah scroll will be kept in the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Lawrence, located at 1201 W. 19th.

The Chabad Center for Jewish Life was founded in 2006 in Lawrence by Rabbi Tiechtel and his wife, Nechama, who continue to oversee the organization, which operates through the support of students, their parents and alumni. The Lawrence center is one of about 3,500 Chabad chapters worldwide.

Rabbi Tiechtel said he was thrilled the Chabad Center for Jewish Life could help provide Lawrence with its first Torah scroll, adding it is a momentous event for the entire community. …

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