Archive for June 17th, 2013

17
Jun
13

Hachnassat Sefer Torah at Manhattan Sephardic


Few events are more joyous in the life cycle of a synagogue, and its community, than acquiring a new sefer Torah – Torah scroll. Not only is it a reaffirmation of the particular congregation’s commitment to follow Hakadosh Baruch Hu‘s commandments, not only is it a reminder of the gift with which the Almighty embraced us as a people, but it is a celebration of our history.

Acquiring a new sefer Tora is a symbol of the tears and the joy, the struggles and the triumphs, a celebration of the fact that against all odds, against all history’s precedents, we haven’t disappeared. In spite of the persecutions, in spite of the blood we shed, we are still here and we’ll still be here long after our tormentors are relegated to mere footnotes in a few forgotten tomes rotting away in the dustbins of history. It is the culmination of the tears, of the hopes, of the prayers expressed by every Jew for three thousand years.

This past Sunday, Manhattan Sephardic Congregation (325 East 75th Street, New York NY 10021, 212-988-6085; www.sepharad.org and www.alephlearning.org), celebrated such an occasion. The new Sefer Torah was dedicated by the Benchimol and Benhamo families in memory of Rabbi Raphael Benchimol‘s father Aharon ben Avraham Z”L Benchimol and a Sefer Haftarot was dedicated by the Schnaider family in memory of Shimon ben Moshe Z”L Schnaider.

Rabbi Benchimol opened the proceedings…

Photography by Irving Schild

Rabbi-Ben-Chimol

He was followed by Gadi Benhamo, who made a siyum Talmud Masechet Berachot

GBenhamo

Live music and singing came next with Chazan Uriel Suliman, accompanied – at times – by Avraham Moshe Benchimol, Rabbi Benchimol‘s son, and followed later by Chazan Marc Hazan

Chazanim

While the music continued, the final letters to complete the Sefer Torah were filled in by various individuals – who bought the privilege – and were helped and guided by the sofer – scribe Rabbi Sebag. The funds collected went to benefit MSC and Aleph Learning Center‘s free Hebrew After School Program and to expand Jewish education for Jewish children in the greater community.

Rabbi Sebag appears in the following photo with Judge Jerome Hornblass

Judge-Jerome-Hornblass

The beautiful new Sefer Torah being shown to the congregation…

TorHag

After the letters were finished and the Sefer Torah completed, everyone proceeded to the celebrate, sing and dance on the street, stretching from First Avenue to the middle of the block, where MSC is located…

SingDancStre1

After the procession on the street, the celebrations continued inside where people danced seven hakafot before putting the sifrei Torah back in the ark, before going upstairs to the third floor for a truly royal repast, the likes of which I’ve never seen at any other synagogue!

CS




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