By Deb Silverthorn
“This isn’t just an ordinary day,” Congregation Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Stefan Weinberg said, and April 15 wasn’t, as the congregation welcomed its Project 613 Torah, dedicated to its beloved Wende Weinberg, of blessed memory.
“It’s Rosh Chodesh Iyar, in which we celebrate the 70th birthday of the State of Israel. We all know who would be leading that celebration,” the rabbi said, speaking of his late wife, who loved Israel, celebrations and everything with a Jewish turn. “This is a unique day, a day of sanctity like none else. This sefer Torah, the source of everything we are as a people, is literally our eitz chayim hee. It is our tree of life. We cherish it, we embrace it, we respect it and we admire it.”
More than 70 percent of Anshai Torah’s membership, as well as members of the community at large, participated in the Torah’s writing. Fulfilling the 613th commandment, young and old felt the touch of the quill, the touch of the sofer (scribe).
“I’ve worked with many congregations in the past 25 years, and at Anshai I experienced something special,” said the sofer, Rabbi Zerach Greenfield.
“This was the love for a rabbi and his family, and a rabbi’s love for his congregants. I observed caring and warmth generated not only to the synagogue, but from the congregants to each other,” Greenfield added. “I experienced that warmth personally as I felt I became a part of the synagogue family, and I thank everyone for the experience. I hope this encourages and inspires many to a love of Torah and mitzvot.”
The Torah’s cover is embroidered “Hanoch l’naar al pi darko” (educate a child in such a way that he or she will thrive).
“Today we mark the completion of the Torah that was written in Wende’s memory, in honor of her legacy of being a teacher; of using those words of the Torah to teach children, to inspire adults, and to perpetuate our Jewish tradition,” Weinberg said, the message embodying everything about his wife, the mother of Adina, Danielle (Gilad) and Jordana, and the grandmother of young Ariel Zev. “There couldn’t have been anything more appropriate than to have begun our procession at our home from which we walked, together, to the synagogue every Friday night and Saturday.”
The journey to the ark was made by hundreds, with Steve and Judy Berman, Larry Elkus, Debbe Katz, Lauren Levin, Bruce Waterman, Laureen Waterman, Alla and Jefry Weinberg, and Marcy and Sandy Wohlstadter carrying the chuppah and the Torah. Once arrived, Michael Pincus served as master of ceremonies. Anshai Torah’s past presidents, Harry Benson, Richard Berry, Andy Cohen, Rusty Cooper, Andrew Farkas, Barney Goldberg, Debbie Katz, Philip Leibowitz, Michelle Meiches, Cindy Moskowitz, Howard Rubin, Warren Rubin, Neil Rubinstein, Josh Socolof, David Stanley and Carl Uretsky, led the next steps of the procession.
Gerry Romanik, escorted by Noah Feldman, Janet and Robert Behringer, Dot and Basil Haymann, and Nicole and Michael Roy, carried in Anshai Torah’s existing Torahs, while Levi and Nadav Kushnick brought in the Torah’s crowns. With the grace and strength of their mother, Adina and Jordana Weinberg carried in Wende’s Torah under a chuppah carried by Marcy Kahn, Jay Post, Andrew Silver. Barrett Stern and David Balis, and Alisa and Shayna Rubinstein served as Hagba’ah and G’lilah, lifted and dressed the Torah, as the Levine Academy Show Choir and Anshai Torah’s a cappella choir Kol Rina sang.
Eli Davidsohn’s musical ruach provided the backdrop for hearts bursting in song, dance and pure joy.
“From inception, our goal was to get as many people to participate in writing this Torah as possible and as we looked into the crowd of over 500, we knew that we succeeded,” said Nicole Post, who co-chaired Project 613 with Pam Goldminz. The committee also included Mojgan and Farzin Bakhshian, Jaime and Michael Cohen, Jonathan Goldminz, Jeanette and Michael Pincus, Jay Post and 72 honorary co-chairs.
Post and Goldminz joined Greenfield, Marcy Kahn, Gerry Romanik and Weinberg in sharing their hearts, memories and blessings on the occasion. “This experience will have a lasting impact on us as a committee, and Anshai Torah as a congregation,” said Post.
On April 28, Jasmine Herlitz’s voice rang out for the first reading of Wende’s Torah. “Wende was beautiful and so is her Torah,” said the bat mitzvah. “It was an honor to be the first to be able to read from what will always be a part of her.”
It was as though her blessings truly reached the heavens — and delivered right back.