About 200 people from Henderson’s Jewish community inaugurated a new Torah scroll Sunday with a parade, food, music and dancing.
The day’s festivities began at Rabbi Yehoshua Fromowitz’s house, where the final letters were added to the parchment. All the children from Yeshiva Day School were invited to help inscribe a letter for free, but many of the adults, who were honored to help add a letter, made donations to the synagogue.
After the Torah scroll was completed, it was paraded a mile down the road to be installed in its new home at the Ahavas Torah Center at 55 S. Valle Verde Drive.
A band headed the procession, and was followed by rows of children holding hands. There were handmade banners and flags, and many children carried little torches.
The holy scroll was sheltered under a canopy held up by four men. The men took turns carrying the scroll, and men held hands, danced and sang in a circle around it.
Older residents followed behind in wheelchairs, and two red Corvette convertibles and a 1931 Ford Model A brought up the rear.
Henderson police escorted members of the congregation on motorcycles as they left the residential streets and took over the northbound lanes of Valle Verde Drive, halting traffic at the Paseo Verde Trail intersection.
“It’s a wonderful, unifying experience,” participant Simon Lader said.
When they reached the synagogue, there was more music and dancing. Everyone clapped and sang along happily. Goody bags were distributed to the playing children, and food and drinks were served.
The large scroll, with its big wooden handles and ornate silver treatments, was placed in a special cabinet in the synagogue and closed off with a curtain.
The celebration continued until it was time for the daily evening prayers, 10 minutes before sundown.
The creation of a Torah scroll is a precise, delicate process and takes about a year. The new scroll was commissioned by the synagogue and made in Israel by professional scribes.
David Tanenbaum, from Queens, N.Y., donated the new scroll. He pointed out that synagogues do not typically have multiple scrolls, and Ahavas Torah Center had to borrow scrolls from other synagogues in the past.
“It’s cause for celebration,” he said.
Most synagogues in town are conservative or reform establishments, Rabbi Mendy Levine explained, and Ahavas Torah Center is one of only a handful of orthodox synagogues.
Henderson’s Jewish community is growing at a fast pace and is increasingly more diverse.
The synagogue is a little more than 2 years old, and in the beginning, men sometimes were recruited from Starbucks so the congregation would have the 10 men needed to start services.
“This is a tremendous milestone for the Henderson Jewish community,” Levine said.
Now about 70 people come to worship at Saturday Shabbat services, he said.
Contact reporter Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@review journal.com and (702) 383-0381. Follow him on Twitter @WesJuhl.