Congregation Zichron Eliezer Welcomes an Altneuland Torah

Around 200 people gathered at the orthodox synagogue Congregation Zichron Eliezer (CZE) on March 31 to celebrate the shul welcoming a new Sefer Torah. 

The Hachnasat Sefer Torah (welcoming of a Torah scroll) is a celebration of installing a new or refurbished Torah to a shul with a party and learning opportunities. This included a procession bringing the Torah to the shul. 

“We dance the Torah to the shul,” said Rabbi Yitzhok Price, a congregant at CZE. “What’s typically done is when we get to the shul, they’ll bring out the Torahs that are currently in the shul to greet this Torah. And then we take them all back in together.”

Before the procession began, families came together for engaging activities that explored the art of creating and preserving a Torah scroll. According to CZE members, this Sefer Torah is special in more than one way. It was purchased from the Israel Defense Forces and is as old as the state of Israel itself. 

The Torah scroll “is 75 years old and was taken out of service, but our shul had it restored and made usable,” said CZE member Rabbi Mechael Soroka. 

The procession began at Cincinnati Hebrew Day School on Losantiville Avenue, where scores of families and individuals gathered to escort the scroll to its new home on Section Road. 

It was led by a phalanx of children carrying lit tiki torches and paper flags. After them followed a trailer where musician Rabbi Yehuda Pfeffer played songs and niggunim (wordless Jewish melodies) for the gathered crowd as they danced, sang, and marched up Elbrook Avenue. 

Then came the Torah itself, surrounded by singing and dancing members of the congregation. At the center was Rabbi Avrohom Weinrib conducting the procession as men celebrated around him and the Torah, followed by dozens of women pushing strollers. 

Such a public celebration of Jewish joy comes at a challenging time worldwide for Jews. Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and the ensuing Israel-Hamas war, antisemitic incidents have skyrocketed. Even before the attacks last year, Orthodox Jews have often been subject to more antisemitic attacks and harassment because they’re more visibly Jewish. 

According to Rabbi Yitzhok Price, this is the time to participate in this celebration despite the state of the world. As he noted, it wasn’t just a celebration for Congregation Zichron Eliezer but for the community. Rabbis from Golf Manor Synagogue and Sha’arei Torah took part in the celebration. 

“We’re celebrating the fact that the Jewish people exist because of Torah. And here’s another Torah coming into regular use in this shul as part of a community focused on learning, applying, and maintaining an unbroken chain,” said Price.