Fair Lawn shul fetes new Torah
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Fair Lawn shul fetes new Torah

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Marching with the new Torah are, from left, Yehudah Felder, grandson of Rabbi Joshua Cheifetz; Rabbi Joshua Cheifetz; Ralph Cheifetz; Dr. Mitchell Wezenter, a member of Shomrei Torah; and Wally Greene, a member of Shomrei Torah and chair of the Torah Dedication Committee. courtesy Ralph cheifetz

On Lag B’Omer on Sunday, a joyous occasion took place in Fair Lawn when a new Torah was dedicated in Cong. Shomrei Torah by the Cheifetz family.

The Torah was a gift from the late Esther Cheifetz, left to the shul in her will. She had emigrated from Poland during her early 20s and lived in Windsor, Ontario, Canada until her death in 2009 at the age of 105.

She often visited her son Ralph Cheifetz, his wife Honey, and their daughters Ruthie and Eva in Fair Lawn on the Jewish holidays. Since she especially enjoyed the dancing with the Torahs in Cong. Shomrei Torah on Simchat Torah, she was determined that one of those Torahs would be hers. Her son Ralph said that he and his brother, Rabbi Joshua Cheifetz, were happy to fulfill her wish. The Torah was donated in memory of Esther Cheifetz, her husband Julius, who died in 1980, and their sons Leonard, who died in 1992, and Nathan, who died in 1999.

The dedication included filling in the last few hundred letters of the Torah in the synagogue, most of which were dedicated by Shomrei Torah congregants and friends and relatives of the Cheifetz family. The last three words of the Torah were completed in Ralph Cheifetz’s home. Under a handmade chuppah, the Torah was then carried in a parade through the streets of Fair Lawn back to Shomrei Torah, led by a four-piece band. Children were given flags and “Torah candy boxes” to carry. The parade stopped twice to let people dance in the street, surrounding the Torah.

At Shomrei Torah, a congregation of more than 300 families led by Rabbi Benjamin Yudin and Assistant Rabbi Andrew Markowitz, the Torah was welcomed outside under a huge decorated chuppah. There was singing by congregants carrying other synagogue Torahs, including the last Torah, which was donated six years ago. The dedication program, which took place in the synagogue, was attended by about 200 people and followed by a festive meal.

Whenever the Torah is read, Ralph Cheifetz noted, it is considered a merit for those who donated it, those who contributed to have letters, words, and passages dedicated in the Torah – and especially for the souls of those in whose memory the Torah was dedicated

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