For every Jewish community, reading the Torah is a deeply spiritual experience.
Communities with the honor of having their own Torah, the first five books of the Bible that serve as their religious text, have a special connection to the words and have cause for celebration, according to Chabad of SCV’s Rabbi Choni Marozov.
Santa Clarita Valley’s Jewish community has commissioned their own Torah to be finished on Sept. 17, the first ever made specifically for the valley.
“There is definite excitement to have the Torah dedicated and written for the community,” Rabbi Choni Marozov said. “It is going to elevate the community and bring goodness to the Santa Clarita Valley.”
Included in the Torah’s 613 commands, every Jew is ordered to write a Torah scroll as instructed in Deuteronomy 31:19, which says, “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them.”
Chabad of SCV commissioned a scribe to begin working on the Torah in December and will have it finished just days before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Currently, Chabad of SCV uses a Torah that used to belong to another synagogue.
A nine-month process, Marozov compares the Torah’s completion to the birth of a child because it “represents God in the world.”
Each Torah is meticulously crafted by hand, culminating 304,805 letters that must be perfect. If there are any flaws, the Torah is invalid, Marozov said.
“The Torah represents Jewish unity,” Marozov said. “Every letter has to be precise. It represents that we are all responsible for each other. We are not complete until our fellow human beings are complete themselves.”
To celebrate the completion of their Torah, Chabad of SCV congregants will dance with the Torah in the street and have a buffet dinner.
Chabad’s Torah is being commissioned in memory of Seldon and Eva Mars, who were Holocaust survivors and served as pioneers of the Chabad community. Seldon Mars was considered an honorary rabbi in the Chabad congregation and attended services every week.
The couple’s story show that there is light even in the darkest places, Marozov said.
Their three daughters wanted to honor their parents’ lives with something that marked their dedication to their faith, their daughter and Santa Clarita resident Sharon Reifman said.
“The religion was everything to our parents,” Reifman said. “This is celebrating our parents’ lives and their passion for Judaism.”
While the sisters commissioned most of the Torah, about 100 families in the Chabad congregation made donations and could commission a letter, word or passage of their choosing.
The Torah is read each week on the Sabbath and on religious holidays and the sisters said they look forward to seeing their children read from this Torah at their bar mitzvahs.
“It’s going to go on for generations,” sister Debbie Haas, a Texas resident, said.
Dedicating the Torah will also provide the sisters a chance to get together and unite their families as their parents encouraged them to do, the sisters agreed.
“They would be beaming with joy and be so proud that we decided to do something in their honor as spectacular as this,” Susie DelBagno, a sister and West Hills resident said. “My parents created a family unit that came together for important and memorable celebrations. We have continued that on.”