By Deb Silverthorn
The heart of the Max and Nolan Glazer Family Sanctuary at The Legacy Midtown Park was beating strong last Shabbat with the dedication of three Torahs to the community by the Andres family, Ann and Nate Levine and the family of Julie and Mike Weinberg.
“It is God’s word to study and teach Torah, and these gifts of Torahs to our community are exceptional,” said Rabbi Michael Cohen, director of Rabbinical Services and Pastoral Care. “Our living history flows and will be studied, remembered, kept alive and appreciated, thanks to these beautiful and important gifts.”
During the siyum, the completion, prior to the Kabbalat Shabbat service on Friday, July 9, sofer (scribe) Rabbi Kevin Hale completed repair of the last five of the 304,805 letters of one of the Torahs. The last letter to be put right, in the Book of Numbers, was written on Rabbi Cohen’s behalf so it was in fact his letter, in fulfillment of the commandment, which restored the scroll as a complete kosher Torah.
“I’m really so happy to be here to allow the members of this very special community the opportunity to see, through the sofer’s eyes — my eyes — our holy words,” said Hale, who lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. “After 16 months of separation, from each other and [physically] from [the] Torah, this glimpse of togetherness, of what it will be like once we can gather again to be close to Torah, touches me deeply.”
Hale traveled to Texas in 2014 to inspect and restore a Torah at Fort Hood. He was scheduled to be at The Legacy Midtown Park for the sanctuary dedication, but lost his father just prior to that and canceled his trip.
“This was my first Shabbat evening service outside of the home since the beginning of COVID, and the honor to work with the Torahs from the Levine and Weinberg families, and now the chance for me to meet the Andres [family’s] Torah, has been very precious to me,” Hale said.
“This visit,” said Hale, “has been like an olive branch and the dove of peace to a time, God willing post-COVID, after the passing of my father. Life has been on hold for so many and this is, indeed, a very hopeful time.”
Ruth Andres and her family donated a Torah acquired from a hotel chapel in the Catskills, on the occasion of her granddaughter Cailey Andres’ 2011 bat mitzvah. The Torah, believed to be about 100 years old, had previously been on loan by the Andres family to the Chabad House at the University of Texas at Austin.
On Friday, Ruth and her son Roger stood by as Hale filled in one of the last letters to be restored in one of the scrolls. On Shabbat morning, July 10, Roger Andres, and daughter Cailey and community member Aaron Hauser, were honored with a joint aliyah at the Torah reading.
“This is an incredible occasion,” said Roger, whose grandfather J. Andres was the gabbai rishon at Congregation Tiferet Israel in the late 1930s. “We are so happy to have such a special place in our community to share this Torah and it was absolutely beautiful to all be able to come together to welcome the Torahs to their new home.”
The other two families who donated Torahs were also touched by the dedication events of last weekend.
One of the two Torahs Hale restored is believed to be from 1850 and was last known to be used by a chavurah in New Mexico. The other, a Czech Memorial Scroll, which dates to about 1775, was previously used by a small congregation in New Jersey which has closed.
“When we learned of the opportunity to gift a Torah, it resonated with us as a meaningful way to provide a lasting legacy to The Legacy Midtown Park community,” said Michael Weinberg.
Through their gift of a Torah, Nate Levine said: “We wanted to help facilitate the development of The Legacy Midtown Park, a great addition to our community. This truly was a special gift to all of The Legacy’s residents, really to us all.”
The breastplates for the Torahs were donated by Jack and Janet Baum; the aron kodesh, the ark, by Irma and the late Irwin Grossman; the Torah reading table by Barbara and Sheldon Stein; and a sculptured menorah by George Tobolowsky. The ner tamid, or eternal light, created by The Legacy Willow Bend resident Ruth Litwin in memory of her husband Martin, was donated by Dr. Arthur G. and Janice Sweet Weinberg.
The Max and Nolan Glazer Family Sanctuary, dedicated on May 22, was gifted to The Legacy Midtown Park by the family of Bennett and Marion Glazer, Judy Glazer, Phyllis Glazer, Mike Glazer, Penny and Roy McClurg, Dr. Randall and Barbara Rosenblatt, Betty and Steve Silverman, Ann Glazer and Barkley Stuart, Glazer’s Inc. and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. Frances Glazer and R.L. Glazer, both of blessed memory, are also included.
“Over the years our organization has evolved and grown to meet the needs and desires of seniors in the Dallas Jewish community; the one constant is our commitment to our Jewish values and traditions,” said Andrea Statman, The Legacy Senior Communities director of development. “The dedication of these Torahs reflects the perpetuation of that mission.”
In addition to twice-monthly Kabbalat Shabbat services, and one Shabbat morning service, The Legacy campuses host weekly Torah study classes with Cohen rotating between Willow Bend and Midtown Park and another class, for now still virtual, with Jewish Family Service’s Community Chaplain Rabbi Howard Wolk. The Torahs will also be used for the High Holidays and other occasions, also live-streamed — like Shabbat services — to the Legacy communities (channel 80 Willow Bend and 81 Midtown Park).
Cohen described the communities as “blessed complete.” With the gifts of Torahs and sanctuary: “We can offer support for the spiritual well-being of our residents in this richly magnificently Jewish tradition of living Torah as well.”