Jewish community in Lawrence plans Torah welcoming

APTOPIX Germany Synagogue Torah
Members of the Jewish community hold a Torah in a synagogue. (AP Photo/Henning Kaiser, Pool)

LAWRENCE, Kansas (AP) — The Jewish community in Lawrence and the University of Kansas is planning a ceremony Sunday to mark the end of the writing of a sacred Torah.

An expert ritual scribe has been working for months to write a Torah, Judaism’s most sacred object. It requires between 62 and 84 sheets of parchment and contains exactly 304,805 letters, with everything from the quality of the parchment and type of ink prescribed. One mistake means the entire 54-portion parchment is not valid.

The ceremony Sunday at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Lawrence will celebrate the completion of the Torah. The sacred book will then be taken under a canopy through the streets in a procession that will include music and dancing.

“This scroll is a very appropriate addition to the KU community, as it represents the unbroken chain of Jewish tradition and survival” Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, director of the Chabad Center, said in a news release. “The ancient wisdom contained in this scroll is the essence of our identity as Jews, and possessing our own Torah scroll at an academic center of learning is cause for great pride and celebration.”

While other Torahs have been in Lawrence, this will be the first written in the city, Tiechtel said. The center commissioned the writing and led the effort to raise needed funds for the scribe.

A commandment in Judaism requires every Jewish person to write a Torah scroll, Tiechtel told The Lawrence Journal-World. Because of the time and difficulty of the task, many Jewish people choose to sponsor the writing of a letter in the Torah to fulfill the requirement, he said.

Gov. Sam Brownback issued a proclamation earlier this month congratulating the northeast Kansas Jewish community and extending best wishes to those celebrating Sunday as Torah Day.

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