The unusual things to do in Austin TX: Help write a new Torah!

May 10, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Things to do in Austin TX: Go help write a new Torah!
On Sunday April 23, my wife spotted a little notice on one of the "things to do in Austin this weekend" websites - at the Dell Jewish Community Center they were transcribing a new Torah and the general public were invited to come and participate in the event and actually be part of the process by placing our hand on the scribes hand as she wrote out the next letter.

We love stumbling across these sort of events - one year when going for an evening stroll around our neighborhood for instance, we discovered that the local high school was, just for that evening, displaying one of the few remaining Broadsheets from July 1776 declaring Independence. BTW we celebrate July 4th, not because they declared independence on that day, but it was the day they collected the broadsheets from the printers and were able to distribute the message throughout the colonies. Those are the sort of activities that you run across in Austin and why we love it here.

But I digress, back to the Torah.

Altho there was an official photographer, I decided to take my new camera "just on the off chance". Naturally I asked permission to photograph and said I would be careful not to get in the way of the main photographer - the people were so wonderful, not only did they say that it was OK, they wanted me too - they wanted people to enjoy the experience as much as they wanted in whatever way it took.

When it came to our turn, the scribe, who was such a lovely warm young lady, but conveyed such wisdom, spent quite a few minutes explaining the whole process to my wife Marjean and I, telling us that once finished a Torah could be used for 200 years or so - that means in two centuries, someone will be reading the words we helped write.

And then the moment we had waited for, we each took a turn helping guide the scribes hand while she controlled the quill to delicately transcribe a letter or two onto the vellum. Marjean went first, she was so transfixed on what she was doing, she did not notice me take these candid pictures.

Out of respect for the space and the event itself, I only used the natural light within the temple, no flash - because the last thing I wanted to do was startle/distract the scribe.

This was such a wonderful experience and so glad we took the opportunity to join in... The scribe - she was such a wonderful person, so humble. As we left we were just giddy, almost in disbelief at what we had participated in. We just spent the rest of that Sunday in silence, because what can you do after that?

I admit I was reluctant to write this post, because I did not want to take advantage of the opportunity we had, but so many friends were amazed at what we did and loved the candid pictures I took so much, I felt it only fair to share. If you ever have the chance to participate in an event like this - do take it, it is such an wonderful and awe inspiring yet humbling activity..

But we do want to thank the Congregation Agudas Achim and the Dell Jewish Community Center for allowing us to share in the moment.


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