After using two secondhand Torah scrolls for the past several years, the Chabad of Burbank will have a new set of scriptures to call its own.
The synagogue, located at 2415 W. Magnolia Blvd., is inviting the public to a Torah dedication ceremony on Sunday at 11 a.m., when a local scribe will write the last few letters of the scroll.
Rabbi Shmuly Kornfeld, who has practiced Judaism his entire life, said this is the first time he has witnessed a brand-new Torah being scribed from beginning to end.
The Torah is used during special occasions, such as Monday and Thursday mornings, every Saturday and on holidays.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to bring the community together for something so special, that represents an unbroken sign of Jewish tradition and survival,” Kornfeld said.
A little over a year ago, the rabbi and his wife thought about having a new Torah made for the Burbank community after noting the condition of the two well-used scrolls they have — one is 21 years old and the other has been in use for 19 years, Kornfeld said.
“Because the Torah is written in ink on parchment, over time the ink gets faded and dry and the whole scroll starts cracking,” he said. “We’ve brought our scrolls to a scribe to get them touched up, but over time [the scrolls] become invalid and we put them away because they’re not kosher enough to read from. Our scrolls are almost to that point.”
The process of writing a Torah is no small feat. Kornfeld explained that each of the 304,805 Hebrew alphabet letters have to be handwritten by a scribe who must adhere to age-old laws while the work is being completed.
“It has to be written in a respectable place, not like a bath or the beach,” Kornfeld said. “The scribe themselves has to be in an honorable condition — not sitting in their underwear while scribing the Torah.”
He added there are certain guidelines when it comes to how mistakes — such as what to do if the letter is not written correctly or if the letters are too close or too far apart from one another.
There are also rules on whether certain sections of the Torah can be written before other sections.
Not only is scribing a Torah labor intensive, it can also cost a pretty penny. Kornfeld said the core cost of writing the scroll — commissioning one or several scribes to complete the process — can fall anywhere between $25,000 and $100,000, depending on the skill of the scribe.
“These letters are written very finely and there is physical beauty that could be detected by an average person,” he said.
For Kornfeld, being able to read from a new Torah that is dedicated to the children in the community is an honor and a blessing.
“It pains the Torah when it is not being used,” Kornfeld said. “With the Torah, every time we use it, it brings joy to the community, it brings joy to the Torah and it brings joy to God.”