Pensacola congregation commissions writing of new Torah

On Jan. 26 at noon, B’nai Israel Synagogue in Pensacola will kick off a new Torah project.

Representatives from Sofer on Site in Miami have been commissioned to write a new Torah for the Conservative congregation, which has been in need of a new scroll. As part of the writing, there will be 250 letters made available for members, alumni and special guests to write.

Sofer On Site has done restoration projects for Temple Emanu-El in Dothan, Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge and Temple Beth-El in Birmingham.

Fundraising for the project kicked off in February during a Shabbaton featuring retired Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, who spoke at several venues in the city during the weekend.

Each of the 250 letters will be made available for a $300 donation to the project. Photographs will be taken of donors as they take the quill, and they will receive certificates to mark the occasion.

In addition to current B’nai Israel members, the congregation is looking to invite past members to participate. They are also inviting members of Temple Beth El and other Jewish residents of the panhandle and southern Alabama, and some local civic leaders and pro-Israel churches.

Between January and May there will be five Sunday programs where members and guests can write their letters under the guidance of Rabbi Moshe Druin. The event is open to all, regardless of whether they purchase a letter.

B’nai Israel Rabbi Jordan Gerson said “This Torah will be ours, not because we paid for it, but because we, as a community came together to learn about it and help in its creation.”

“Never in the history of Pensacola has a congregation had the exciting opportunity of participating in the writing of a Torah,” said B’nai Israel President Samuel Berman.

Ironically, though, a Pensacola “messianic” congregation is also currently raising funds to commission the writing of a Torah.