Services, Dedications, and Chanukah

Dedication of the Rimmonim. Left to right: Sam Horowitz, Rita Pollack, Rabbi Seltzer, Joan Elder, and Lorna Horowitz. (Photo by Nate Einbund)

The services held in November featured Rabbi Sanford Seltzer, our cantorial soloist Eliyanah Powers and Harrison Sheckler, accompanist.

It was a wonderful Shabbat! There was a warmth that permeated the service with tradition and learning and the accompaniment of our talented musical staff. Many people lingered and socialized at the Oneg (an informal gathering after the service) with delicious cakes and beverages.

During our service, Rabbi Seltzer took time to explain the Torah and its accessories as he prepared to dedicate the Rimmonim (Torah Finials). Our congregation thanks Rita Pollack and Sam and Lorna Horowitz for their generous donation.

So, Torah parts—so many. But first what is the Torah? The word Torah means “instruction.” The Torah is the foundation of all Jewish instruction and guidance. It is a parchment scroll of the Five Books of Moses and is kept in the ark of the synagogue to be taken out and read during services.

The Accessories of the Torah

* Wooden Handles of the Torah (Tree of Life): The Torah scroll is rolled around two wooden dowels attached to either end of the Torah. Each shaft is made long enough to be used as a handle with which to hold the Torah and to scroll from portion to portion.

* The sash is used to tie the Torah scroll so that the Torah remains closed and secured under its covering.

* The Mantel is an ornate covering that both protects and beautifies the Torah scroll. It is typically made of velvet and embroidered with golden thread, silk, and ornamental beads.

* Rimmonim or Crown that adorns the Torah. Typically made of silver, as a symbol of endearment and veneration. The crown rests on the wooden shafts, extending above the scroll.

* The Yad (“hand”) is the pointer that the reader of the Torah uses to help others follow the written words as he reads.


On Dec. 16, the Institute for Judaic Services and Studies (IJSS) will celebrate Chanukah (meaning “dedication”). Chanukah actually begins on Dec. 18 and ends Dec. 26. We look forward to the celebration of the eight days of the festival of lights, with a nightly menorah lighting, prayers, and foods cooked in oil.

From our history, we observe that a small band of faithful but poorly armed Jews, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, and drove them from the land. The Temple in Jerusalem was reclaimed and rededicated. In the process, there was only enough oil to burn for one night. Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days. To commemorate the miracle, the festival of Chanukah was begun.

Festivities include the eating of potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts. Gelt (money) is given to young children. Dreidel (a spinning game) is played for a pot of coins, nuts, or other stuff, which is won or lost based on which letter the dreidel lands when it is spun.

Please join us on Dec. 16 for Shabbat services. If you wish to sponsor an Oneg reach out to Sam Horowitz ([email protected]).

IJSS is a small and welcoming congregation. We value our members and their needs. If you have questions or wish to join our congregation, please feel free to contact Joan Elder at 520-360-1478 or Seth Eisner at 520-818-6340 for information.

IJSS wishes the community greetings of the season! Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!