Our Torahs are Home!

They’re back! Yes, after 2.5 years in Florida, the two Cedar Sinai Park Torahs out for repair are back on campus and ready to ring in 5784.

“The Torahs have had a wonderful vacation in Miami, and now they’re back!” said Eddy Shuldman, board trustee and spiritual life committee chairperson. “We are the people of the book. Our story as a people, and the guidelines for how we should live our lives, is contained within those scrolls. It’s hard to describe the emotions we feel welcoming our Torahs home again.”

Cedar Sinai Park’s three Torahs were inspected by a sofer for the first time in 2019, thanks to the generosity of Marcy Tonkin. Suffering from cracks and smudges, two of the Torahs were taken by plane for repair by Rabbi Menachem Bialo, who checked one Torah (without its staves), and packed the other Torah in his carry on bag.

Plans for Rabbi Bialo or another sofer to bring the repaired Torahs back to Oregon kept getting waylaid, primarily due to Covid, and so it was decided that the Torahs should be mailed back instead.

We are grateful to Rabbi Michael and Cantor Ida Rae Cahana, and Aki and Devora Fleshler, who generously provided the postage to help us get our Torahs safely across the country!

One of the Torahs just repaired is a “vuv,” a 21-inch heavyweight Torah scroll written in a Good Bet Yoseph Sephard script approximately 50 to 60 years ago in Israel.

The other Torah repaired is our 16.25″ lightweight Torah scroll written in a Good Bet Yoseph script approximately 120 years ago in Germany.

“The Torahs needed repairs to fix cracking and faded letters, as well as “airing out” in a climate-controlled space,” said Eddy.

The Nudelman family generously donated one of the Torahs in 1997 in memory of Alysmae Nudelman, and “the fact that there are Nudelmans living with us now, makes the Torahs coming home even more special,” said Eddy.

The latter Torah, the smaller one, had to be reassembled upon arrival, since its staves were removed for the flight to Florida, and were still off for the trip home.

Staff and residents used sinew and instructions provided by Rabbi Bialo to re-attach the parchment to the stave through three small holes.

“My dad was a tailor,” said Eddy. “I should have been paying attention!”

Then, the group carefully rolled the Torah through the five books of the Old Testament to re-attach the stave similarly on the other end.

“What an experience!” said resident Jeanine. “This is an honor.”

Agreed resident Ruth: “Isn’t this something? This is so moving.”

Noted resident Eve: “I have read from Torahs that aren’t nearly as legible. I’m impressed with the writing. This is so readable.”

Finally, the group put the Torahs in their beautiful covers, and placed them back in the ark in Cogan Chapel.

“There’s something lovely about this gathering because it integrates the holiness of sacred work with having fun,” said Spiritual Life Director Cathy Zheutlin. “This experience is priceless.”

All are welcome to attend a special celebration/re-dedication of the two repaired Torahs, at a Saturday, October 7, Simchat Torah observance in Zidell Hall that begins at 7 p.m.

We still have one Torah on campus that needs repair! There is now a dedicated Torah/Judaica Fund to which people can contribute for the religious and spiritual upkeep of the Torahs and prayer books, through the Cedar Sinai Park Foundation.