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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jewish center dedicates new Torah

CHESTNUT RIDGE — Nicky Zion waited in a line
Monday night to have a single letter written for her
family and, to her, it was entirely worth the wait.

"I just think it's so special because it's not every day
you get to do this," said the 41-year-old Valley
Cottage resident. "I think it's just a very special thing
to happen to you."

Zion was one of about 100 local Jews to take part in
the completion of the Chabad Jewish Enrichment
Center's new Torah scroll.

Rabbi Chaim Zvi Ehrenreich, director of the Chabad
Center, said that each of the 600,000 letters in the
Torah has a connection to a Jewish soul and that
writing a full Torah is actually considered a mitzvah,
a good deed, required by the Jewish text.

"Most people don't ever do that in its entirety," he
said. "And so today, every family that's here is going
to have the opportunity to have one letter inscribed
for them."

The Chabad Center, at 6 Whitefield Road in Chestnut
Ridge, is part of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch
movement to promote Judaism among all Jews and
was opened in 2001, Ehrenreich said. Since its
inception, the group has used older Torah scrolls
on loan from other Jewish organizations during
their observances.

The Torah scroll completed Monday was donated by
the Tseytin family of Saddle River, N.J. The scroll,
written by a trained scribe in feather and ink, took
about a year to complete. Ehrenreich described the
donation of the scroll as "very, very generous" and
estimated its cost to be between $25,000 and
$50,000.

"The religious meaning of it is beyond that," he said.
"This is the Torah that's handed down from
generation to generation to generation from Mount
Sinai until today. We're going forward now. This is
here for the next 50 years, for the next generation.
It's very, very special."

The ceremony couldn't have come at a more fitting
time. Shavuot, which begins tonight, is the Jewish
holiday during which Moses was given the Torah at
Mount Sinai 3,322 years ago by the Jewish calendar.

Monday's simcha, or celebration, included a series
of traditional Jewish observances such as the
picking up and tying of the Torah. Throughout the
entire event, guests ate and drank, and danced to
music.

Ella Tseytin said she is a spiritual person, but not
overly religious. She said one reason, among many,
that she and her husband, Michael, donated the text
was to honor her father, Yakov Shtivelman, who died
two years ago.

Tseytin said the family wanted to remember
Shtivelman, whom she described as an "amazing
person" who "believed in people," and the family h
oped that the people of Chabad would pray for him
as they read from the new Torah scroll.

She also said that, after consulting with another
rabbi, her family decided that it would be a good
idea to help a Jewish group in need.

"The idea was to do something good for someone
and to feel good doing it," she said. "Maybe it was a
little bit selfish, but the idea was to bring something
good to somebody else."

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