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Nanaimo’s first-ever Torah scroll completed with 300,000 handwritten letters

Mid-Island Jewish community’s Torah completion ceremony called a tremendous milestone
Nanaimo’s first-ever Torah scroll. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

The local Jewish community gathered this week to see the final letters inked on Nanaimo’s first-ever Torah scroll.

Chabad of Nanaimo and Central Vancouver Island hosted a Torah completion ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 12, at the Inn on Long Lake.

Expert ritual scribe Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman, director of Chabad Richmond, was on hand to ink the final Hebrew letters on the scroll that was months in the making.

“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 … the slightest error voids the entire 54-portion parchment,” noted a press release.

Rabbi Bentzi Shemtov, director of Chabad of Nanaimo, said the Torah in Nanaimo will have the exact same letters as the Torah found anywhere else in the world.

“It’s exactly the same Torah that was given 3,333 years ago and it’s been copied over one by one…” he said. “[It’s] amazing how correct it is and how authentic it is.”

Shemtov said Nanaimo has had a borrowed Torah until now, and said for the community to have its own copy is meaningful.

“This is the first [time] in history that a Torah, which is our Bible, is being completed and will stay here forever…” Shemtov said. “Now we actually have our own Torah which belongs to our community. For a Jewish community to have its own Torah is a tremendous milestone.”

The ceremony included a procession, music and dancing. The Torah will be kept at the Chabad of Nanaimo centre.

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Ritual scribe Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman inks some of the final letters on Nanaimo’s first-ever Torah scroll on Sunday, Dec. 12, at the Inn on Long Lake. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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