Sunday was a landmark day. A family on our street dedicated a new Torah in memory of their patriarch, and we had a great time dancing and singing as the new scroll was welcomed to its new home.

A Torah scroll is handwritten and can take a year to complete. So, it is not often that a new Torah is commissioned. When it happens, the entire community comes out to dance and sing as it is joyously paraded amidst great fanfare.

The festivities were called for one o’clock, and started (relatively punctually, I suppose) at 1:30 on the dot. Since A was sleeping and I had some work to do, we both stayed home while T and the kids went to start the parade.

Truth to tell, it would be more accurate to say that they were continuing the parade. They had been parading all morning in anticipation. They made their own Torah “scrolls” out of Clics, those colorful plastic building toys that are clicked together to fashion just about anything.

First R made a Torah. Then Y made a Torah. Then Y made a Torah for A. Since a parade needs a destination, the Torahs were very neatly parked in an ark made out of a cardboard box covered by a blanket.

Front and back view of the "ark."
Front and back view of the "ark."

I sat and typed until I heard the music and looked out the window to see the Torah parade pass by. As soon as A woke up, I plopped on her floppy pink sunhat and we dashed out together to the synagogue on the corner where the Torah was being welcomed inside.

At that point, T took A to visit friends; and Y, R and I all went in to dance and sing as the Torah was placed into the ark for the first time.

The family who was dedicating the scroll is originally from Morocco. The songs and chants were a mixture of Eastern European and North African. And the announcements were in French, English, and just enough Yiddish to make things interesting.

We danced and sang, and learnt a few things. Here are my lessons:

  • When it is announced, “We are just going to put the Torah in the ark and pray minchah (afternoon services) right afterward,” understand that to mean, “We have to take pictures with our relatives, lavish blessings upon the entire world, sing some more songs, and we will think of finishing in around 45 minutes.”
  • When you give a little girl a big piece of honey cake, realize that she will probably stuff her mouth, and then it will be your problem to find a napkin into which she can unburden her jaws and start again.
  • The music is going to be too loud. Just embrace it. Do not bother trying to communicate with anyone via any medium other than text message.
  • Paper flags rip. They are not supposed to last more than one good waving session. So, after enough dances around with the Torah, the paper is going to tear. Good to prep the kids in advance. “We are getting flags now, and when they rip, we are going to say, ‘It’s okay.’”

Eventually, we found our way home. After dinner, we asked everyone what they enjoyed about their day.

Y, dutiful son that he is, said he had fun dancing with the new Torah.

R said, “I liked walking in the mud with my Crocs.”

Like I said, it was a landmark day.