This and That

Random bits of my life

Torah Scroll Dedication

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 26, 2010

Hakhnasat Sefer Torah

Hakhnasat Sefer Torah

Yesterday I was on my way home from work. Suddenly the minibus stopped because a crowd was blocking the street. I had to walk down the block but I stopped to take few photos of the event. The Torah scroll was being dedicated by the Moroccan synagogue in our neighbourhood. It takes about a year of full-time work for a scribe to write a scroll. When it’s finished, there’s a big celebration. The scroll is likened to a bride, and I’ve seen processions in which the scroll was carried under a chuppah.

There was quite a crowd of men and boys dancing around the man carrying the scroll (it gets handed around and is carried down by different men). I managed to get a good photo of the scroll in its silver-covered case, one of the few shots that I managed to take in sunlight. Most of the street is lined with apartment buildings, which cast long shadows over the street.

The photo below was greatly cropped, so I rendered it as black/white to offset the grainy appearance. A soldier lifts up his young daughter so that she can kiss the scroll.

Hakhnasat Sefer Torah

Ever have the feeling that everyone is staring at you?!!  🙂

Hakhnasat Sefer Torah

I always try to find a high place to stand when photographing a crowd. I ran up a flight of steps and was standing on the landing outside the flat of Rabbi Nahum Rabinovich, the head of the Birkat Moshe Yeshiva and a prominent rabbi (he has his own Wikipedia entry). While I was taking the photos, the rabbi came out to watch, so they were actually looking at him. I moved to one side so that he could go down the stairs to the circle of dancing teenage boys.

Hakhnasat Sefer Torah

They brought the Torah scroll over to him. I remained on the landing for a few minutes and took these photos.

Hakhnasat Sefer Torah

Since the Torah scroll is like a bride, she is joined at some point by her “sisters,” the other Torah scrolls from that synagogue. At this point there were no staircases for me to get a good high view and it was getting dark but I managed to take this photo. (The staircase to the women’s section of the Pnei Shmuel synagogue doesn’t have enough room to manoeuver a camera and it’s above a large porch. My balcony used to be a good place to take photos of the street in front of the synagogue but the trees have grown high enough to block the view.)

Hakhnasat Sefer Torah

This collection wouldn’t be complete without a photo of the outlandish vans that provide the music at these events. The lights blink, music blares from loudspeakers, and sometimes steam or smoke pours out of the top (it’s meant to be a special effect, not a mechanical malfunction). They really are something to see. This is actually a rather restrained version of this type of vehicle. I’ve seen some that are much larger. The bulbous lights on top are meant to represent the finials or bells (“rimonim”) decorating the handles of a Torah scroll. This photo was taken from my balcony. It was about the only thing I could photograph above the trees.

Hakhnasat Sefer Torah

4 Responses to “Torah Scroll Dedication”

  1. Angi Jurado said

    Hey Avital! Thank you for giving me something interesting to teach my kids today!

  2. tinebeest said

    I love your posts where popular culture and religion meet (always neatly illustrated, too!). Outsider question: so 1 scroll is the entire Torah? Wow. That’s a long scroll…

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