Last month, the Tidewater Jewish Foundation hosted a unique educational and cultural experience for the Jewish community. The event, Grants in Action: Meet & Greet with a Sofer, gave community members the opportunity to meet a Sofer, learn what they do, and see them in action. Invited to Tidewater by Temple Emanuel, the Sofer spent a week in Tidewater evaluating and assessing 30 scrolls from various community congregations and organizations.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Tidewater Jewish Foundation for allowing us to have the community’s Torahs evaluated,” said Jason Lovitz, Grant Writer and Past President of Temple Emanuel. “Bringing in the Sofer to come in and evaluate 30 scrolls over the week is a pretty cool thing.”
The event, which was attended by over 50 members of the community, was part of a $24,000 Tidewater Jewish Foundation Community Impact Grant to Temple Emanuel. In addition to the event, the grant also paid for the travel expenses and Torah evaluations by the Sofer, Rabbi Moshe Druin.
“I’ve been honored to come here and look over some 30 Torahs,” said Druin. “I’m examining them for their condition to make sure we know the condition of each individual scroll and if they need repairs. I also appraised each Torah for its current value for insuring the Torah.”
Rabbi Druin’s visit came about when Lovitz and Temple Emanuel began to investigate the condition of their Torahs. When a member of their congregation pointed out that they needed repairing, Temple Emanuel began reaching out to community organizations to see if their Torahs needed repair as well.
“Temple Emanuel contacted every synagogue, Hillel, nursing home, Chabad, and Chavurah in the area to ask whether they had Torahs that needed, or they wanted, to be inspected,” said Lovitz. “It was determined that there were over 25 Torahs in the Tidewater community that needed to be evaluated.”
During his weeklong evaluation and assessment of the Torah scrolls, Rabbi Druin’s presence provided an invaluable learning opportunity for the community. In addition to his presentation and Q&A, TJF set up a short window for attendees to see the Torahs being repaired and assessed in action.
“The Tidewater Jewish Foundation was able to bring together members of various different congregations in the same room to celebrate our sacred text, our Torah, and learn how we have a responsibility to repair our Torahs and repair our world,” said Naomi Limor Sedek, President and CEO of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. “TJF was honored to be a part of this momentous occasion, which brought everyone together to work towards a common goal. We are only stronger when we can work together.”
Rabbi Druin stressed the importance of what he called ‘Torah Care.’ That is, making sure Torahs are repaired, evaluated, and maintained during their lifetime. According to Druin, it’s just as important to look after the Torah as it is to follow its wisdom and teachings.
“You are the guardian of Torah,” said Druin. “The responsibility is on you to make sure that your Torahs are in good condition and that they are maintained from time to time. We are the people of the book, this is our book, and it’s our job to make sure it stays in good condition.”