Font Size

Cpanel

Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  (rabbi@adathisraelsf.org) has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


 

One of the most challenging issues facing Jewish communities around the world is how to observe Simchat Torah now that it will be the anniversary of the greatest tragedy to befall our people since the Holocaust. 

On the one hand, Simchat Torah is a day of joy, celebration, and hakafot (dancing). But now Simchat Torah will also mark the Yahrzeit of the 1200 victims of October 7th. How do we respond? Should we dance? How do we commemorate this poignant and difficult anniversary. 

The World Mizrachi organization has come up with what I consider to be a beautiful solution to this dilemma, based on the words of King Solomon in the Book of Kohelet, which we read on Sukkot. King Solomon says: “There is a time for everything under the Heavens…. a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Unlike all the other contrasts that he lists (for example: a time to be born and a time die) only this pair can be done simultaneously, and so with tears in our eyes, we will dance.

Their idea is that when synagogues around the world open their Aron HaKodesh on Simchat Torah and take out several Torah scrolls, one will be adorned with a new Torah cover, designed to mark the Yahrzeit of October 7th.

The cover will be identical to the ones which will be created for 1600 synagogues across the world. The beautifully designed cover will proclaim that this Torah is dedicated in memory of the 1200 souls and the many soldiers and hostages who have since died. The back of each Torah cover will feature the name of one of the victims or fallen soldiers embroidered onto it. 

Communities around the world will dance with these Torah scrolls with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Jews being connected through this project.

The Jewish world will be unified, knowing that across the globe, Jews are dancing with Torah scrolls that collectively link us all with the events of October 7th, and inspire us to realize that “Am Yisrael Chai.”

Synagogues will encourage their members to come and dance with the newly robed scroll, to remember the fallen, by holding their Torah high, so that they can say: “We will not forget what happened on Simchat Torah last year, but we are determined to dispel the darkness with light.”
This project will symbolize the Jewish People’s resilience, our ability to find hope in the face of tragedy.

All the participating communities are required to attend the launch in Israel where they will be receiving their Torah cover from the families of one of those killed on October 7th and the ensuing months. The two-day launch will be from Monday 2nd September (9:00am) – Tuesday 3rd September (10:00pm)

Fortunately, Johni and I are scheduled to be in Israel at that time and will proudly represent our community. However, it would be great if more members of the community could join us.

Every participating community is being asked to contribute at least $1800 toward this project. I feel very strongly that each and everyone of us should take part in this opportunity. Therefore, whatever you feel comfortable donating will be greatly appreciated. The funds should be marked as “ST Torah Cover.”