The Jewish community of Edinburgh completed and welcomed a Torah scroll -- Judaism's most sacred object -- with a unique and celebratory ceremony on March 19 at Chabad on Campus at Edinburgh University.
More than 100 students, faculty and community members were in attendance as an expert ritual scribe inked the final letters of the magnificent scroll, as done 3,300 years ago for the very first time by Moses. Following the completion of the Torah, the community joyously danced with the sacred scroll, which is the first one in Scotland ever dedicated to Jewish students.
An authentic Torah scroll is a mind-boggling masterpiece of labor and skill. Comprising between 62 and 84 sheets of parchment-cured, tanned, scraped and prepared according to exact Torah law specifications, and containing exactly 304,805 letters, the resulting handwritten scroll takes months to complete. Timeless dictums hold for a certified Torah scribe and everything from the character of the scribe to the quality of the parchment and type of ink are taken into account. The slightest error voids the entire 54-portion parchment.
"The addition of this unbroken chain of Jewish tradition and survival is an exciting event for the students at the university and the wider Edinburgh community,” said Rabbi Pinny Weinman, who co-directs the center with his wife Gitty "The Torah is the essence of our identity as Jews and many who joined us mentioned that it was an experience they would never forget.”
The event also marked eight years of Chabad of Edinburgh and a number of students spoke about the impact of Chabad in their lives. “As a child, Judaism was always just to make mom and dad happy, but now, I go to Chabad because I really enjoy hanging out there and being a part of all the events,” said Saskia Samuel. Yakira Kellman, a freshman from New York, echoed that sentiments, describing her initial hesitation about traveling so far from home, and her joy at finding such a wonderful and supportive community at Chabad on campus.
Chabad of Edinburgh received its Torah courtesy of the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach (BYTG), a free Torah-loan program that finds scrolls sitting unused in synagogues, then fixes and redeploys them to Synagogues around the world. In partnership with Chabad on Campus International, 4 additional scrolls were also distributed to other Chabad on Campus centers.