Written by Pam DeFiglio
Well-wishers greeted Holocaust survivor Marge Fettman Sunday as she sat in the midst of the celebrations for the new Torah scroll she dedicated to the Lubavitch Chabad synagogue in Skokie.
The children making a Torah craft behind her may not have known she was dedicating the scroll in memory of her parents and relatives who died in the Holocaust, and those of her late husband Daniel Fettman. The adults knew, and though that was bittersweet, the focus Sunday was on the joy of the arrival of the new Torah scroll, which Rabbi Yochanan Posner described as sacred, and almost as cherished as if it were human.
Earlier: Fettman and her husband Daniel, who died in 2004, both survived the Holocaust, but their parents and other relatives did not.
Fettman, sitting in a small park behind the synagogue where the preparations were taking place, took a moment to reflect on why she made the donation.
"I figure that Hashem wants us to do the things he wants to do and that's in the Holy Torah," she said. "If we go the Torah's way, we go Hashem's way. I love Hashem with my whole heart."
Rabbi Posner explained Hashem literally means "the name" in Hebrew, and religious Jews use it instead of speaking the sacred name of God.
"She's somebody who feels God is very close to her. She feels God helped her through (the Holocaust and concentration camp) and brought her through that," he explained.
Nearby, scribe Yochanan Nathan sat under a canopy inking in the last few letters and words on the Torah scroll, which is completely hand-written over a period of months.
Bernie Finkel, who came to the celebration and has been affiliated with the Hebrew Theological College, said scribes have to be knowledgeable in Judaism and in their craft. Because of the amount of work and the exacting, ancient methods in which scrolls must be prepared, a Torah scroll can cost between $25,000 and $50,000, he said.
When the scroll was finally completed, four men held a canopy over it, musicians struck up a lively tune, and some people started dancing and merrymaking as they paraded the Torah into the synagogue, with a crowd of excited congregants and visitors following.
Click on the video to hear just how lively it was.
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