"This means that for the first time in our congregation's history, we'll be able to read from two Torah scrolls instead of one," said Rabbi Fred Natkin, leader of M'Ateh Chaim, the 16-year-old Reform Jewish congregation where the new Torah now resides.
The temple's first scroll, around 150 years old, has been with the congregation for more than a decade.
"The reason for having two scrolls is that certain holidays demand that you read from certain sections of a scroll," Natkin
Because the scrolls are so large, finding a passage isn't like flipping through the pages of the Bible.It can take an hour to 90 minutes to unroll a scroll to the proper place.
"Now, we'll be able to read the portion of the week, which currently is in the book of Leviticus, from one scroll as well as the portion which is special for Passover, Exodus 12, from the other," Natkin
From the latter Scriptures, members will hear the story of how the ancient Hebrews were delivered by God from slavery in Egypt during the first Passover nearly 3,500 years ago.Then they will meditate on how that passage through the Red Sea put the Jewish people on a centuries-long path filled with struggle, religious persecution and even genocide.
"Just as Passover honors our ancestors, the scroll will honor our ancestors.And just as our celebration of Passover makes the tradition come alive for us, the presence of the new scroll will make the experience more alive to us," Natkin
said M'Ateh Chaim's new scroll has time-worn wooden handles with an inscription by the scribe.
Many of the older scrolls, including ones decorated with unique artistic flourishes, were collected by individuals as heirloom pieces.Some ended up in synagogues as scriptural teaching tools for younger generations in preparation for bar or bat mitzvahs.Natkin
said the scroll, which passed from owner to owner and survived water damage over the years, was purchased through a private intermediary in Germany.
...Natkin, a former rabbi for the U.S. Navy, secured the congregation's first scroll through the Jewish Welfare Board of the Jewish Community Council.