Kol Emeth Trip to Russia and Israel, Nov. 2002

The Torah

The highlight of the Russia trip was delievering a Torah scroll to the Jewish Community of Pskov



Here is the history of the Torah which we obtained and then delivered to Pskov.

The Kol Emeth Social Action Committee's project of providing the Jewish community of Pskov with a Torah was started with a request from the Pskov community. We determined that we were able to do this project and then moved forward to find a Torah. Are goal was to have the Torah at Kol Emeth in time to read from it and dance with it at Simhat Torah. Simhat Torah started the evening of Saturday, September 28.

We were fortunate that one of our members, Joel R. has a cousin who is the rabbi at Marathon Jewish Center in Douglaston, New York. Marathon had consolidated with other local synagogues as they became to small to continue. They ended up with more Torahs then they could use. They decided to sell a Torah to obtain funds for maintaining the Torahs that they do use.

Through Joel, we contacted Marathon about buying one of their Torahs. They quoted us a price that included the cost of the Torah and the cost of making it kosher as it needed some repairs. We agreed to the price. When they found out why we were buying the Torah, they told us that they would donate the Torah so that all we would have to pay for would be the repairs. Since their reason for selling it to us in the first place touched our hearts, we went ahead a made a donation to their Torah repair fund.

The Torah was then delivered to the scribe. We waited anxiously for news. As Simhat Torah neared we were still waiting. Joel was on a business trip to N. Y. the week before Simhat Torah. When he returned, he had the Torah with him. We were able to dance with it, and we started the new cycle of reading by using this Torah.
When Joel picked the Torah up, he was informed that the scribe who repaired it, was able to tell by the style that the Torah was about 100 years old and was written in Western Russia. Pskov is in Western Russia. We would be returning this Torah to its home.

Pictures of the Torah. This includes the Torah being transported to Pskov as well as pictures at the ceremony when the Torah was presented to the Pskov Jewish Community

1.
Torah at Kol Emeth (blue)
2.
Torah in rucksack
3.
Torah opened, Pskov
4.
Giving Torah

5.
Giving Torah

6.
Giving Torah

7.
Giving Torah

8.
Ark

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Ark

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Ark

11.
Ark, with Roman

The Mantle

The Mantle goes over the Torah to protect it. The mantle is removed when the Torah is read from. A cover is placed over the Torah between readers (during the service) when blessings are being said both the mantle and cover were made by Miriam.

Design and Symbolism of the Pskov Torah Mantle
By Miriam T. Ayala


When the Social Action Committee approached me about making the Pskov Torah mantle, I was absolutely thrilled and honored. The committee had asked that I inscribe a dedication acknowledging Kol Emeth's donation, and that I create a design that reflected our community. I was so excited by the prospect of making a Torah mantle that I could barely concentrate on anything else until I had completed it.

I made the mantle out of dark blue velvet and lined it with satin. I attached a gold fringe at the bottom, and gold brocade at the top. I hand embroidered the design and the inscriptions out of metallic gold thread. The design I created, I based around Kol Emeth's emblem of an Etz Chaim within an ark. Atop the ark, I placed a crown representing Hashem's kingship, and within the crown, a band of twelve ruby jewels representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Above the band and within each of the five sections of the crown, is a different colored jewel representing each of the five books of the Torah. The branches of the tree bare a multitude of small green leaves, totaling 373, which represents the gematria (the numerical value of a word in Hebrew) of the word 'hashiveinu, meaning 'bring us back.' On the back of the mantle is a large dedication in Russian that says "To the Jewish Community of the city of Pskov from Kol Emeth of the city of Palo Alto, the state of California." At the bottom right corner in Hebrew, I signed my name and honored my father and the memory of my mother.

I was fortunate to have been able to accompany the Torah to Pskov. The community I saw had lost touch with many Jewish laws, traditions and practices, but still maintained a strong Jewish identity. It dawned on me that, when the Jews left Egypt and slavery, they too had lost everything, except their identity. In that state the children of Israel received the Torah, and it is in a similar state that the community of Pskov received its Sefer Torah. At the end of the Torah service we say "Etz chaim he lemachazikim ba..." meaning " [the Torah] is a tree of life to those who take hold of it." The Jewish Community of Pskov asked to take hold of a Sefer Torah. So, just as we stumbled in the dessert for many years when we left Egypt, it is possible that they too may stumble for a bit as they try to learn how to reap the benefits from this most precious gift. They have much to learn, such as the laws and customs regarding how to properly read from the Torah and how to conduct services. But, they seem committed to and excited by this undertaking.

Before we close the ark we conclude by saying...'hashivenu Hashem elecha, ve nashuva, chadesh yamainu kekedem". "Bring us back to you, Hashem, and we shall return, renew our days as of old". My sincere hope is that, with the help of G-d, their leaders, teachers, and communities like ours, they will return.

Pictures of the Torah Mantle

1.
Torah at Kol Emeth (blue)
2.
Miriam with Torah at Kol Emeth
3.
Miriam with Torah at Kol Emeth
4.
Torah cover
5.
Torah mantle, front
6.
Torah mantle, back
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Torah mantle, Pskov
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Torah mantle, Pskov
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Torah mantle, Pskov
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Torah mantle, Pskov
11.
Giving Torah

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Giving Torah

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Giving Torah