Members of Chabad of South Austin/Young Jewish Professionals recently welcomed of a new Sefer Torah.
“It’s so exciting for our congregation,” said Rabbi Mendy Levertov, co-director of the Chabad center with his wife, Mussy. “This is difference between having weekly service and not having one because without the Torah, we can’t read the weekly portion together. This Torah will help us be able to grow and build a weekly minyan.”
Adding to the significance is that the Sefer Torah is dedicated to five slain Dallas police officers who lost their lives this summer in the line of duty.
“I work closely with the Austin Police Department and have a good relationship with them. For us, it is very important to recognize the protection that the police give us and the service they provide to the community,” explains Rabbi Levertov. “We are proud to have a Torah that ties together Jew and non-Jew, law enforcement and our community, and enforces that strong connection.”
The Sefer Torah was sent to Austin on an open-ended contract by the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach, a project of Merkos Suite 302 in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. The organization collects Sifrei Torah in unusable condition and repairs them before sending them off on loan to congregations and communities in need of them.
The eventual goal is to have the recipients rally to raise funds for a permanent Sefer Torah.
Bentzion Chanowitz, who runs the daily operations of the Torah Gemach, noted that other refurbished Sifrei Torah have been dedicated in memory of security forces—in this case, for the officers shot down on July 8; and in the past, in memory of fallen soldiers and or terror victims in Israel.
Chanowitz approached an anonymous donor, who agreed to help underwrite the cost of repairing the Torah and designing the mantel. The inscription of the blue velvet Torah cover includes the names, badge numbers and ranks of the officers who died: Patrick Zamarripa, Brent Thompson, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahern and Michael Smith. It says, in part: “This Torah is in memory of the five police officers who dedicated and sacrificed their lives to protect our community and the American people. May their spirit live on thru use of this Torah.”
It ends with the words “In G d We Trust.”
The Sefer Torah was officially dedicated at a gathering attended by NYPD officers and local community members before heading off to its new home in Austin.
Based on a Chabad.org report.