CAA Dedicates New Torah Scroll

Did you write a letter in the new Torah scroll at Congregation Agudas Achim? Have you been waiting to see the finished product? The time has come to dedicate the new Torah scroll, with celebration and great festivity, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018.

Money raised through the project supports the L’Dor V’Dor fund, an endowment to enhance and deepen Torah learning and to guarantee that CAA’s sacred space will be maintained for generations to come. While the opportunity to write a letter will end the week of Feb. 5, the opportunity to support the L’Dor V’Dor fund is ongoing.

Soferet (scribe) Jen Taylor Friedman meticulously hand-wrote the 304,805 letters, about 79,000 words, that comprise the Torah. CAA welcomed all members of the community to join in the creation of this new Torah scroll by writing a letter and sharing in this unique spiritual experience.

Commissioning a female soferet was an intentional decision, as CAA actively promotes egalitarianism and equality that is steeped in tradition. It is estimated that no more than 10 women in the world are trained as scribes, and this will be the first full Torah written in Texas by a woman. With roots in Austin for more than 100 years, CAA has spent the last year engaged in Torah study at the synagogue and in homes. These gatherings, led by Rabbis Neil Blumofe and Gail Swedroe and dedicated to learning and building strong personal relationships, have enriched the community, illuminated Torah parashot (portions), and provided space for food and fun.

Austin is a community where many synagogues already have several Torah scrolls. Still, Maimonides noted that every Jew must personally fulfill the 613th mitzvah, or commandment, of writing a new Torah scroll. Jews can comply with that requirement by writing a single letter that helps to complete a new Torah. Perhaps in writing that one letter, it is more about the Torah inside oneself, one’s own narrative, that each individual is imprinting on the parchment that will last for generations to come.

Sponsors of the 10,000 Faces of Torah campaign have made financial contributions to the L’Dor V’Dor fund, an endowment that will allow CAA to continue to prosper, ensure that its sacred space will be maintained, and provide opportunities for Torah learning in Austin for generations to come.

The Torah Dedication Feb. 11 at 10:30 a.m. is a free event, and all members of the community are welcome to attend. CAA will host a ticketed event at 5 p.m., a panel titled “Jewish Wit, Jewish Wisdom, Jewish Women,” moderated by CNN political correspondent Dana Bash.

Others on the panel include Rabbi Susan Silverman, author; Hadassah Lieberman, author and activist; and Lisa Loeb, singer and songwriter.

At 6 p.m. Jewish a cappella group The Maccabeats will perform. ■

Find more information about the celebratory weekend at www.theaustinsynagogue.org/celebrate.

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