More than 200 attended a Torah dedication at Sephardic Bikur Holim and Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath on July 1, when Mark Birulin and his sister Gloria presented a new Torah to Seattle Hebrew Academy.
The Orthodox Jewish day school had an older Torah, which has been deemed unkosher. Mark and Gloria dedicated the Torah to their parents, Sol and Ann Birulin, on the occasion of Sol’s 80th birthday. The Torah was written by Rabbi Yitzchok Chaitovsky, a sofer or scribe. Rabbi Ephraim Gottlieb secured and completed it.
Seattle Hebrew Academy has a mini-synagogue in which students lead services. On Mondays and Thursdays, the students read from the Torah. The new Torah will be temporarily housed in the ark of Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath.
As it takes a sofer about a year to complete a Torah; a new one costs up to $40,000. Jewish custom asserts that by correcting a single letter in the Torah, it is as if that person has written the Torah. The sofer outlined the letters on the last “page” so other people can participate in the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah at the dedication ceremony.
“It’s a mitzvah for every Jew to do this and we had the opportunity,” Mark said, adding that he hopes SHA gets through its problems. The school building was severely damaged in this year’s earthquake and school leadership is still working on plans to determine where students will meet next year and in the future.
“Our lives are guided by the Torah,” said Sol. “This is the highest honor anyone could dream about and our hearts are full of gratefulness.”
During World War II, Sol encountered a Torah in the midst of Nazi Germany. He was asked to read from it. His future bride, Ann, was 14 at the time and she was asked to take the Torah to a ghetto. She hid the Torah in the attic of a shul, but the shul later burned down.
“Today, we are replacing the Torah,” said Sol. “We shall survive and live on.”
Mark took time near the end of the dedication to publicly honor and thank his parents. “It’s our honor to be their children,” he said.