Temple Beth Tikvah celebrates its first 50 years
Demonstrating a strong desire to pass along Jewish tradition, members of Temple Beth Tikvah in Wayne, aided by a scribe from B’nei Brak, have begun "writing" a Torah.
During about half a dozen "Mitzvah Torah" open-house events at the temple, congregants of all ages will have the opportunity to fill in at least one letter of the Torah, outlined by scribe Rabbi Zerach Greenfield. During the first such event, on Feb. ‘6, the first paragraph of Bereishit (Genesis) was completed, said Rabbi Stephen Wylen in an interview.
Rabbi Stephen Wylen tosses honey candy, representing the sweetness of the Torah, into the congregation.
The commandment for each Jew to write a Torah in his or her lifetime is not always possible to do, said Wylen, but "if you’ve written a letter in a Torah scroll, you’ve fulfilled the mitzvah." The rabbi said he never thought he’d have the opportunity to fulfill that mitzvah himself. When he realized he would, he anticipated being thrilled, he said, but the actual experience "was more thrilling than I ever could have imagined, one of the Jewish highlights of my life."
The completed Torah will be dedicated at a siyyum with "a big celebration" on November 19, Wylen said. Mitzvah Torah is one of many initiatives underway at the temple as part of its 50th jubilee anniversary.
Rabbi Stephen Wylen and Rabbi Zerach Greenfield, writing the first letter of Bereishit.
The Mitzvah Torah kickoff last month "was a great event," board member Eric Ostern told The Jewish Standard, and many local dignitaries accepted the synagogue’s offer to attend. "The project has received 100 percent participation from the temple board of directors, and it is being embraced by our temple membership as we roll out the initiative."
Ostern said the project has three components: writing a new scroll for the congregation, donating one of the temple’s existing Torahs to a congregation or Jewish institution in need, and "securing the future for Torah study at Temple Beth Tikvah by establishing the temple’s first ever endowment fund."
"Mitzvah Torah is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will strengthen individuals’ understanding of the traditions and rituals involved in the making of a Torah, while simultaneously creating a legacy for future generations," said temple president Rick Hyne in a press release, which went on to explain that organizations interested in obtaining the Torah can submit a request to the temple. All submissions will be reviewed by a committee, including the temple’s board of directors and religious school students.
Scott Rumana, mayor of Wayne Township, joined in the Feb. ‘6 celebration, as did Wayne Township Council members Chris Vergano and his wife Deneane, Joe DiDonato, Joe Scuralli, and Gerald Porter. Also present were Jacqueline Gindrod, district director for Congressman Bill Pascrell; Sheriff Jerry Speziale; Dr. Maria Nuccetellin, Wayne Board of Education superintendent; Rabbi Randall Mark of Shomrei Torah in Wayne; Rabbi Israel Dresner, rabbi emeritus of Temple Beth Tikvah; and Rabbi Randi Musnitsky, regional director of the Union for Reform Judaism, New Jersey-West Hudson Valley Council.