You might have been wondering what all the excitement was on Cronston Avenue and Beach 129th Street this past Sunday afternoon, March 19th,
Yeshiva Mercaz Hatorah of Belle Harbor (505 B. 129 Street) made an Inauguration of a Torah scroll (or Hachnosas Sefer Torah) which was written in memory of the Yeshiva’s founder, the beloved Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Levi Dicker, of blessed memory.
This is a ceremony in which one or more Torah scrolls are installed in a synagogue, or in the sanctuary or study hall of a yeshiva, rabbinical college, university campus, nursing home, military base, or other institution. The ceremony is held for new and restored scrolls alike, as well as for the transfer of Torah scrolls from one sanctuary to another.
If the Torah scroll is a newly written one, as it was in this past Sunday’s event, the ceremony begins with the writing of the last letters of the scroll in the home of the donor. All scrolls are then carried in an outdoor procession to the synagogue, characterized by singing, dancing, and musical accompaniment. Inside the synagogue, there is more singing and dancing, a short prayer service, placement of the scroll in the Torah ark, and a “seudat mitzvah” or celebratory meal.
For this event, the Torah scroll was brought from Rebbetzin Chana Dicker’s home on Newport Avenue to Yeshiva Mercaz Hatorah. The joyous procession was led by Rabbi Levi Dicker’s son, Rabbi Shmuel Zev Dicker, who now has followed in his father’s footsteps as the head of the Yeshiva. The new scroll was brought into the sanctuary of the Yeshiva, where it will have its place among the other Torah scrolls that are housed there.
There were approximately 200 people in attendance, mostly Yeshiva students and alumni (many bringing their own children), who paraded and danced down Cronston Avenue from Beach 140th Street to the Yeshiva on Beach 129th Street. The rabbis and others carried the new Torah beneath the canopy until it arrived outside the doors of the Yeshiva. At that time, the other Torah scrolls from inside the Yeshiva were brought out to “greet” the new scroll.
According to long-time Belle Harbor resident, Avi Kunstler, a neighbor curiously poked her head out the door to ask him what was going on. When he explained the reason of the celebration, she exclaimed that “this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in this neighborhood”. She was impressed how happy, respectful, and sincere this occasion was.
After the procession, prayers and dancing were held in the sanctuary of the Yeshiva. The celebrants then boarded buses that took them to the Ohab Zedek ballroom for a festive meal, which was similar in exuberance to a wedding.