By Anna Streetman
There are 304,805 letters in a Torah scroll. When the first and last letter are put together, they spell the Hebrew word for heart. On Sunday,
Aug. 23, the Chabad Jewish Center in Kennesaw gained a new Torah and a new heart for the community.
Until the new Torah arrived, Chabad had used a borrowed Torah.
The sofer (scribe) for the project, Rabbi Moshe Klein, flew in from New York to complete the scroll with assistance from congregation members. His landing was delayed by bad weather as storms moved through that morning, but the wait didn’t stop Chabad from celebrating.
Jews of all ages paraded down Shiloh Road with Chabad’s borrowed Torah. Children danced and waved celebratory flags as music blasted from a truck in front.
Rabbi Klein also arrived to rain, though not thunderstorms, when he visited Cobb County five months earlier to complete a Torah for the Chabad center in East Cobb.
Adam Brodofsky donated half the $40,000 cost of the West Cobb Torah. The rest of the money was raised in about a year through the community; donations were made to sponsor letters, words, entire books from the Torah, the yad for the Torah, and so on.
“I grew up around here and always wanted a shul near me,” Brodofsky said of his contribution. “I had the ability and the opportunity, so I decided to seize it.”
Special event programs containing swatches of velvet from the Torah’s mantle were presented to guests as gifts; it is an ancient custom to purchase a piece of the material used to make the mantle of a new Torah for protection and blessing.
Rabbi Ephraim Silverman, who leads Chabad of Cobb in East Cobb, said of the West Cobb community: “I never would have imagined this type of growth in the Kennesaw Jewish community. It’s an amazing thing.”
The West Cobb Chabad center’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Zalman Charytan, and his wife, Nechami, also run the Chabad program at Kennesaw State University. Their program involves weekly Shabbat dinners and other educational and social Jewish events.
Chabad at Kennesaw State also gives back to the community through service projects such as preparing Shabbat care packages for Jewish patients at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
Philip Goldstein, who has served on the Marietta City Council for more than 35 years, attended the celebration, where he read a greeting on behalf of Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Goldstein’s family has lived in Marietta since 1912. He expressed delight at the expansion of Chabad in neighboring Kennesaw and called it “a blessing for the community.”
Tim Lee, the chairman of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, also attended the Torah celebration. In his speech, he voiced strong support for Israel, saying: “As for Tim lee, he stands with you folks very strongly, arm in arm. I am with you 100 percent, not behind you, but in front with you.”
Lee concluded: “The Torah has changed the world and changed Western civilization with its values of justice, morality, life and the promise of a better tomorrow.”