Chabad of the South Hills to get new Torah scroll

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A new Torah scroll is being added at the Chabad of the South Hills, which already has two scrolls.

But the local community did not participate in creating the first two Torah scrolls, and it will do so with this one.

A Torah scroll is one of the most sacred objects in the Jewish religion, whose members believe the Torah is a narrative of the word of God handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai 3,326 years ago.

The new scroll was handwritten in Israel in Biblical Hebrew on roughly 54 pieces of parchment using a feather and a special mix of ink.

The expert scribe left out the last paragraph — but outlined the letters — so that it can be completed at the Chabad of the South Hills in Mt. Lebanon.

“'We're offering an opportunity to be part of such a special connection to God through adding to a Torah,'' said Rabbi Mendel Rosenblum, the synagogue’s executive director.

The new scroll will be welcomed in a Torah dedication ceremony and reception at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at Chabad of the South Hills, 1701 McFarland Road.

A different scribe, flown in from New York, will assist participants in completing the final letters of the scroll.

The free celebration will include live music, a parade with the Torah to its new home, children’s programs, raffles and a buffet dinner. The public is welcome.

A Torah scroll, containing the entire text of the five books of Moses from the Old Testament, is made up of roughly 600,000 handwritten letters. The creation of the scroll for Chabad of the South Hills began in May 2013.

The $50,000 cost of the project includes the scribes’ work and the celebration and was funded by private community donations.

Rabbi Rosenblum said the Torah contains 613 commandments.

''We view them as 613 ways to connect to God,'' he said.

While two-thirds of the commandments are not practical, as they can occur only after the coming of the Messiah, many are relevant today.

The laws of divorce, for instance, state that if a couple wants to break up, they may separate in a specific way.

The commandments also can be used as inspiration or good life lessons, the rabbi said.

“ 'Build a temple and he will dwell within it' refers to rebuilding the temple after the coming of the Messiah,” he said. ''But you can build a temple within your heart.”

Being part of writing the Torah is one commandment that is for every Jew.

Rabbi Rosenblum, who co-founded Chabad of the South Hills with his wife, Batya, said the synagogue has no membership in the typical sense, but about 300 families actively participate at any given time.

Chabad is an acronym in Hebrew for wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

''We have a very open and accepting approach, with an emphasis on bringing the joy and relevance of Judaism to the South Hills,'' he said.

Classes on the Torah and its modern relevance will be offered in the fall for adults and youngsters at the synagogue’s Jewish Learning Institute.

For information or to donate to the Torah scroll project: or 412-344-2424.

Reservations to attend the Sept 14 celebration are appreciated. To make a reservation:

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer:

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