In Jewish tradition, last Saturday — the 18th day of Elul — was a significant date. It is the anniversary of the birth of two major chasidic figures: the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the chasidic movement; and Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
Last Sunday was a significant date in the history of Chabad of Queens College: the student organization, begun seven years ago, dedicated its first scroll.
After several years of using borrowed sifrei Torah in its Shabbat and holiday worship services, Chabad welcomed its own scroll, commissioned by an anonymous Queens donor and written by an Israeli scribe. A Torah dedication cannot be held on Shabbat; Chabad chose the first open — and serendipitously, symbolic — day.
Rabbi Dovid Ehrentreu, a local sofer, guided the symbolic writing of the Torah’s final three words in a college dormitory, and the scroll was accompanied with singing and dancing and a police escort to its home in the college’s Chabad House, five blocks away.
“The weather was fantastic,” says Rabbi Shaul Wertheimer, who heads Chabad of Queens College.
The scroll was, as far as is known, the first written for a Queens College Jewish organization, Rabbi Wertheimer says.
It will be used for the first time this Shabbat, Parshat Nitzavim.