26 Apr Inauguration of a Torah scroll in Nagy Fuvaros Street synagogue
Inauguration of a Torah scroll in Nagy Fuvaros Street synagogue
According to the tradition, if you are a Jew, you have your own letter in the Torah. So it means that you have to study the Torah for yourself, nobody else can do it for you. It is also said that finishing such a letter is like writing the whole scroll. How? With the help of a learned scribe called the sofer in a Torah inauguration!
Some people have had the chance to do it so in the Nagy Fuvaros Street synagogue recently. The synagogue itself, a former casino building has been the biggest active synagogue in the eighth district since 1922. Its interior is beautiful with the late Viennese art nouveau and art deco elements giving the place a peaceful and friendly atmosphere. The community today is led by Rabbi Shmulik Glitzenstein. People gather twice a day here, morning and evening, for prayers. They read from a torah scroll three times a week, like in all other synagogues, otherwise prayer books are used.
The Torah scroll is made from kosher animal parchment, with the entire text of the Five Books of Moses written on it. It is rolled up on two bars, which are the symbols of the Tree of life.
The text is written in black ink with goose feather by a sofer. The five books contain 304.805 letters. The sofer counts them, the scroll cannot contain more or less letters than that. If any of these letters get damaged or fade away, the Torah scroll is not kosher anymore, cannot be used for religious purposes unless it is repaired. The process takes a long time and requires professional skills from the sofer. The sofer leaves a few letters unfinished for the members of the community. To be asked to finish a letter is a great pride and a sign of respect. After finishing the last letters, the Torah is rolled then dressed up and taken to its place, the Torah cupboard, the ark of the synagogue.
Every scroll is an amazing piece of art. This time it’s the art of Márk Farnadi-Jeruzsálemi. It deserves a joyful celebration with dance, songs, blessings: that is actually called the inauguration of a Torah. Apart from Shavuot and Simchat Torah it is a rare but truly unique event in the life of a religious community when the Torah scroll is in the center. I am thankful and proud that I could be part of it.
The black and white photo was taken by photographer Mirka Sarkadi. Thank her.