An authentic Torah scroll, kept in the ark of each synagogue, is an intricate hand written document, comprised of between 62 and 84 sheets of parchment that are cured, tanned, scraped, and prepared according to exact specifications mandated by Jewish law. According to chabad.org, "the first Torah scroll in history was dictated by God verbatim and written by Moses, just before his passing. In his parting words, he told them to listen to the words found in that scroll and to reference them in response to life's questions."
Tomorrow night at 7 p.m., Chabad of Charleston will host a Torah dedication and ceremony as Charleston's Jewish community completes a Torah scroll in honor of Jewish veterans and active members of the armed forces.
The project started two years ago when Admiral (Ret.) Malcolm Fages and his wife decided they wanted to honor fellow Jewish veterans. According to a press release, Fages' Navy career spanned more than three decades, with assignments including commander of off-coast attack and ballistic missile submarines, director of Undersea Warfare for the U.S. Navy, and director of International Negotiations on the staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Other veterans, active service members, and those from the Jewish community will have the opportunity during the ceremony to be assisted by a certified ritual scribe in using a "skillfully tuned quill to ink in the final letters of the magnificent scroll." These final letters will complete the precisely 304,805 letters that make up the document.
"This Torah scroll is an incredible addition to our community as it represents the unbroken chain of Jewish tradition and survival," said co-director of Chabad of Charleston Rabbi Yossi Refson in a press release. "The ancient though timeless wisdom contained in this scroll is the essence of our identity as Jews."
When the final lettering is complete, a procession will carry the sacred scroll to the ark housed in the Chabad where it will live, to be used for religious services, including the upcoming two-day holiday of Shavuot. A festive buffet dinner and remarks by Admiral Fages after the dedication ceremony. The entire community is encouraged to attend.