Chabad of Tallahassee Rebuilding From The Ashes



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    Chabad of Tallahassee Rebuilding From The Ashes

    And then it was time to look to the future. With rabbis, students, and donors participating, they began to create a new Torah scroll. A future 600,000 letter Torah was begun, and with it hope for a new day for the Tallahassee Chabad • Full Article, Photos

    Tallahassee Democrat
    It has been just under two months since a devastating fire destroyed the building and campus of the Chabad-Lubavitch of the Panhandle, a religious “home” to Florida State University Jewish students, as well as to community members.

    Also known as the Moris and Lillian Tabacinic Chabad House, the building served as a center for Jewish life for the last decade, a place to socialize, enjoy a Shabbos meal, and to fuel students’ connection to Judaism.

    However, on May 8, an overnight inferno that investigators have suggested may have started in the kitchen, would leave only the brick exterior of the 11,000 square foot structure standing, incinerating everything else inside — including the treasured heart of the faith, the two Torah scrolls.

    Now, the co-director of the 23-year-old Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Oirechman, along with his wife, Chanie, say that their intent is to oversee the rebuilding of the center, which for many Jewish students had become a haven.

    Raising money to build back

    Rabbi Oirechman, speaking from Israel on Sunday, says that the Chabad is working with the University to hopefully secure space where services can take place during the High Holy Days in September.

    Their longer-term goal is to raise $1 million by December in order to have in place temporary, modular buildings where students can gather during their ultimate goal— rebuilding the Chabad back, “bigger and better.”

    But just as before a new direction can be embarked upon after a death, Rabbi Oirechman points out that a final resting place must be found for what has been lost.

    “One of the destroyed Torah scrolls was on loan from the Chabad Center of Aventura South. The other was called the Offenberg Torah, donated by a student’s parents.”

    Sacred ceremony

    During a ceremony on June 19 in Miami, attended by Florida Secretary of Agriculture, Nikki Fried, herself a part of the Tallahassee Chabad’s community, the Israeli Consul General in Miami, along with a number of respected Rabbis and participants, a formal Jewish funeral ceremony for the scrolls was held, a levyah.

    Then, with the scrolls placed in a prescribed clay vessel, and laid inside a large wooden box, akin to a casket, the scrolls were laid to rest in the Mount Sinai Cemetery, next to the small grave of a deceased child.

    And then it was time to look to the future. With rabbis, students, and donors participating, they began to create a new Torah scroll.

    Taking turns to each write one letter from the holy book’s beginning words, the first words of the book of Genesis, a future 600,000 letter Torah was begun, and with it hope for a new day for the Tallahassee Chabad.

    Rabbi Oirechman has now already presented the nascent Torah to a professional scribe in Israel who will complete the scrolls in “approximately one year.”

    “For now,” the rabbi says, “We will focus on rebuilding. In challenges there is opportunity. God is involved in everything. The message is here, and it is up to us to find it.”

    With undiminished enthusiasm, he adds, “When I look at what remains, I don’t see devastation, but rather what will be.”

    Anyone interested in hearing more about this long-term plan and sponsorship options can visit chabadtallahassee.com.

     

    The burnt Torahs in the box they were buried in.

    Rabbi Schneur Z. Oirechman leads the procession accompanying the Torahs on their final journey in a ceremony June 19, 2022, in Miami.

    Cantor Aryeh Horowitz at ceremony for Chabad of Tallahassee's burned Torah scrolls on June 19, 2022.

    Rabbi Schneur Z Oirechman conducts the burial service for the Chabad scrolls as Rabbi Shalom B Lipskar looks on in Miami on June 19, 2022.

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