There is a new Torah in town, and Jews throughout the New York Metropolitan region came to Poughkeepsie on Sunday to publicly rejoice.
The ancient Jewish holy book, written in a Hebrew scroll format, is considered the word of the Creator, as spoken to Moses.
Chabad of the Hudson Valley organized the celebration, which paraded the sacred parchment from the Hampton Inn hotel in Poughkeepsie, down Route 9, to their synagogue at 63 Vassar Road. It was the first Hachnasat Sefer Torah Parade in Hudson Valley history.
The joyous event is treated like the birth of a child, with singing, dancing, and feasts.
Rabbi Yakov Borenstein, spiritual leader of the Hudson Valley Chabad, recalled the town approval process.
“Why must you march on Route 9? I told them, you know it’s a tradition, that the Torah is always marched outside, to celebrate it under a canopy – it’s like a wedding day. And this is a most special day; you want to go to the most public place.”
Carefully inscribed by a sofer, the professional scribe etched the last words immediately before the parade, allowing the ink to dry, and then holding the finished scroll aloft for all to see. Each character on the 300,000-letter document is sponsored. This symbolizes the unity of the Jewish nation, Borenstein explained.