The London Free Press
It took more than a year, and tens of thousands of dollars, to write it.
On Sunday, the final letters were inked in a Torah scroll, the Jewish holy text, hand-written in honour of Yitzchok Block and his wife Laya, pillars of the London Jewish community who started Chabad house at Western University and founded the London Community Hebrew day school.
Members of the Jewish community danced and cheered in a procession down Richmond Street, from the university gates to Chabad house, a gathering spot for Jewish students and now the final home for the new Torah scroll.
Relatives of the Blocks came from all over North America to take part.
Chaim Block, the couple’s oldest son, who lives in Texas, said the tribute was fitting.
“The feeling is beyond words, almost hard to describe. We feel both joy and celebration that their work will continue,” he said after a service to receive the Torah at Chabad house.
“They lived here for close to 50 years, dedicated their lives to the Jewish community here, developing the Jewish community and providing, specifically for the students at Western, a home away from home. This Chabad house is such a wonderful tribute to them.”
The completion of the scroll was excitement on its own, bringing members of London’s Jewish community – and visitors from across the province – to Alumni Hall to watch Rabbi Shmuel Zirkind, a trained scribe, write the final letters.
Rabbi Mordechai Silberberg, the Jewish leader at Western University, described it a special custom and the holiest of objects.
“It’s not just a book. It has to be written meticulously,” he said of the text. “It’s written with a special feather, exactly as it’s been done for thousands of years.”
And those letters written on animal hide represent the individuals within the larger Jewish community.
“Every single person has their letter in the Torah,” Silberberg said.
“Every individual counts.”