Pleasanton Weekly

News - August 27, 2010

Tri-Valley to welcome its own Torah

Rabbi invites everyone to join in celebration

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

"In the beginning..."

These words were written in Hebrew on parchment in February in Pleasanton to inaugurate the new Torah Scroll for the Chabad of the Tri-Valley. After the first three lines were penned by members of the community with a scribe, the scroll was sent to Israel for completion. Now the Torah has been returned and is ready for dedication Sunday.

The Torah is the first five books of the Old Testament, explained Rabbi Raleigh Resnick, who moved to Pleasanton five years ago to establish the Chabad. It contains lessons from 3,300 years ago, the words originally recorded by Moses, inscribed in Hebrew using 304,805 letters.

"They were written with a quill," said Resnick, displaying the completed Torah on Monday, soon after its arrival. "Hundreds and hundreds of families purchased letters in this Torah."

According to Jewish law, by endowing a single letter, word or sentence it is as if people have written their own Torah scroll. Some men chose the phrase in the Torah that they used at their bar mitzvahs, said Resnick. Other participants picked the first letter of a newborn child's name .

Members of the Jewish community also donated the wooden rollers, ends decorated in silver, to hold the parchment, as well as a sterling silver crown to go atop the scroll, and a silver breastplate to go in front.

After the scribe in Israel completed the text, it was scanned by a computer to make sure that not one letter was omitted, said Resnick.

In the Jewish tradition, the letters of the Torah are likened to members of the community, he explained. The letters are interdependent so with even one link missing, the Torah is incomplete, similar to the Jewish people.

"To be healthy, we need every single person," Resnick said.

The last three lines of the new Torah Scroll were left undone, to be written by members of the congregation along with a scribe at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Pleasanton Senior Center, 5353 Sunol Blvd. The dedication will take place at 2:30 p.m. with a grand procession.

"The Torah will be under a canopy -- it will be walked and danced through the streets," said Resnick.

At 4 p.m. there will be a festive buffet to celebrate the historic occasion.

Resnick emphasized that everyone is invited to the festivities, which are free, to dedicate the Tri-Valley's first Community Torah. In February the Torah Inauguration Ceremony drew 350 people, including community dignitaries and state officials.

"This is a huge, momentous event," said Resnick. "This Torah is the newest scroll -- it is very, very powerful."

The creation of the new Torah continues a wonderful tradition, he noted. It is divided into 53 parts, and its yearlong reading begins with the new year, Yom Kippur, which this year starts at sunset Sept. 17.

The celebration Sunday is also to recognize the five-year anniversary of the Chabad of the Tri-Valley, which was begun to provide meaningful programs to local Jews who may not already belong to a synagogue.

"It's part of the Chabad movement all over the world," Resnick said.

For more information, telephone 846-0700 or visit


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