IJSS—Some New Things and Catching Up

Our new Torah

Melanie Einbund

Our December services were led by Rabbi Seltzer, assisted by Eliyanah Powers and Joshua Nichols. We welcomed the coming New Year with the hope for peace to embrace our community and Israel.

Our Oneg honored the birthdays of Barbara Rosenthal and Sharon Triester, as well as Jack and Barbara Rosenthal’s 62nd anniversary.

Our next Shabbat Services will be held on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. The Oneg will be sponsored by Roz and Seth Eisen and Arlene and Ron Solomon. If you wish to sponsor an Oneg for a special event, remembrance, or celebration, contact Judi Friedman at [email protected].

We held our annual meeting in December. New members of the board elected are: Joy Erickson, Judi Friedman, and Jerry Lankin. We wish to thank Joan Elder, Sam Horowitz, Sherry Kaplan, and Joel Wyner for their service and dedication.

We enjoyed a service of warmth and remembrance as we ate the fruits from the trees at our Tu B’shvat Seder on Jan. 28.

A New Torah!

What is a Torah? What does the Torah mean to the Jewish people? In Judaism, the Torah is the most important and sacred religious text of the Jewish people. It is the foundation of Jewish law and tradition. The Torah contains the history of the Jewish people, their laws, and their beliefs. Studied extensively by Jewish scholars, the Torah is considered a source of wisdom and guidance for daily life.

Translated to English, the meaning of Torah is “instruction” or “teaching.” The Torah (The Five Books of Moses) consists of five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Torah is also known as the Pentateuch in Christianity.

Written on a sheepskin scroll, each letter is inscribed by a trained and religious scribe. Just so you know, there are 302,000 letters in the Torah. That’s a lot to write!

The Torah is housed in an Ark in the synagogue. It is read aloud during Jewish religious services. Considered so sacred that touching the Torah scroll with one’s hands is not allowed. A prayer book, a pointer, or the fringes of a prayer shawl are used to touch the scroll.

Torah scrolls are considered the holiest of sacred objects. They are handled with extreme affection and care. And, as you read on, Jews will risk their lives to protect the Torah.

Our current Torah needed much repair. After consultations with Rabbis and scholars, we found the time and cost to repair would be overbearing. To search for a new Torah, a Torah Search Committee was formed with two goals: Begin the search to find a Torah and raise the funds for its purchase. Our Congregation responded beyond the committee’s expectations. The search led to Rabbi Bialo in Florida.

A Torah written in 1932, originally from Germany, was found. Our new Torah was saved from the Holocaust by holocaust survivors. These survivors immigrated to Florida in 1949 with this Torah and formed a congregation. Since the congregation is aging, a new home was sought for their Torah. Their singular requirement was to be assured by Rabbi Bialo that the new home for their Torah be one that would care, safeguard, and embrace its teachings. We passed the test! We have a new Torah that survived the Holocaust and is now entrusted to us to continue with its wisdom and teachings.

A New Name

The Institute of Judaic Services and Studies (IJSS) began in 2003. Over time it was believed and commented that the name “IJSS” was not descriptive of a Jewish Congregation.

Suggestions for a name change were made and voted upon at our annual meeting in December.

Once we have completed the appropriate state and federal filings, our Congregation’s new name will be known as “Congregation B’nai Midbar at SaddleBrooke.”

Why this name and how is it pronounced? The name B’nai Midbar (transliterated: B’nay Meedbar) means ‘The People of the Desert.’ B’nai Midbar reflects the character of our community, and our nature, diversity, and determination. We live in the desert, as did our ancestors, and we have wandered here from all over the world. We continue with new and active lives coupled with our faith, self-reliance, and determination to build the best community possible.

IJSS is a small and welcoming congregation. If you have questions or wish to join our congregation, please feel free to contact Esta Goldstein at 520-825-1181 for information.

Already, February? May your valentines be plenty!