West Valley Jewish center welcomes Torah

WVV Torah.jpg 

Thanks to a generous donation, the Chabad Jewish Center of Goodyear officially has a Torah scroll to call its own.
The Chabad Jewish Center held a formal dedication ceremony April 3 at the Palm Valley Community Center in Goodyear to welcome the Torah to the West Valley.
“We’re glad that we’ve reached this milestone,” said Rabbi Berel Zaklikofsky, director of Chabad Jewish Center. “There’s excitement in the air. We’re looking forward to a one-of-a-kind experience of having our own Torah. There’s nothing like it.”
The scroll, which can cost as much as $30,000 to $40,000, is hand produced by a trained sofer, or scribe, and can take as many as two years to finish, Zaklikofsky said.
“The scribe is usually authorized and has to go through years and years of intense training,” Zaklikofsky said. “Every day, he’s committed to finishing the project. It’s something the scribe has to feel he’s up to doing. In other words, you can’t just do it as a side job.”
The scroll has 304,808 individual hand-written letters total, accounting for the time it takes to complete the project. The scribe uses special parchment and inks, and carefully measures out the spacing used for each letter. The slightest error could mess up the entire scroll, Zaklikofsky said.
The production and delivery of the scroll serves as a teaching tool for the scribe and the members of the synagogue, Zaklikofsky said.
“The Torah is a gift from God to Moses and the Jewish people,” Zaklikofsky said. “The same way the Jews worked hard to reach that goal, to reach that milestone for the intense preparation they had to go through [to earn the scroll], we feel the same way 3,300 years later.
“To keep that tradition, to earn it, and finally at last we have our own to call home, our synagogue is very grateful for that.”
Zaklikofsky said the West Valley Jewish population will feel more connected as a community as a result of receiving the scroll. It’s used several times each week during prayer.
“For many years, we were borrowing from other congregations,”
Zaklikofsky said. “It’s difficult to run across the Valley to go borrow one, and obviously it’s a lot of responsibility, making sure you give it back in the timeslot. [Now], we don’t have to worry about that. It’s our own milestone.”
The Torah was made possible by Steven Castillo and Elliot and Linda Cohen of Colorado Springs, Colo.
Zaklikofsky spent time in Colorado Springs, as well as other small towns in the state, spreading his faith’s message while he was a rabbinical student.
During 2005 and 2006, he took multiple trips to Colorado, especially during important dates, such as Chanukah and Passover.
“I feel that with these donors coming forward, I feel that I contributed to their community and they’re kind of giving it back,” Zaklikofsky said. “It’s like, ‘You brought the Torah to us, you brought our tradition alive to us, now we want to help your community.’
“They’re very great philanthropists, great people in the community. The fact that they’re reaching out to Arizona, [that’s] something special. It tells you something.”
Zaklikofsky said the entire community is grateful for the generous donation.
“It’s just a great honor,” he said. “Absolutely humbled by this. I think about it every day, how lucky I am to have such great people out there.”
Shane McOwen can be reached at smcowen@westvalleyview.com or on Twitter @ShaneMcOwen.