Mother of six Chaya Kaplan remembers two tasks she and her husband, Yisroel Ber Kaplan, faithfully performed after the birth of each of their children along with making sure each of their APGAR scores was in the healthy range and all of their limbs were in place. They signed each child up as a member of the international Chabad-Lubavitch children’s organization Tzivos Hashem and purchased a letter for each in Torah scrolls commissioned by the Chabad-run Children’s Torah Scroll campaign.

“It wasn't the first thing we did, but it was one of the first things we did when each child was born, based on the strong recommendation of the Rebbe,” Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, said Mrs. Kaplan.

Three decades ago on his birthday, the Rebbe spoke of the special power children have to make the world a better place. All over the globe, their “very breath free of sin,” could fuel a dramatic demonstration of unity that could change the planet. In order to accomplish this, he urged that every Jewish child possess a letter in a Torah scroll written specifically for them. All it would cost is the symbolic amount of one dollar, ideally coming from the child’s own funds or sponsored by parents and family members. Each letter would link Jewish children the world over to the foundation of their heritage.


This Wednesday, the Torah campaign he inaugurated will dedicate its fifth scroll since 1981 during a ceremony slated to be attended by rabbinical leaders, Israeli politicians, and thousands of others in Jerusalem.

The event will begin around 11 a.m. at the Tzemach Tzedek Synagogue in the capital’s Old City, a historic institution that houses all of the Torah scrolls written as part of the children’s campaign, and will continue with musical accompaniment and a dancing procession to the Western Wall around 3:30 p.m.

After completion of the writing of the Torah’s last verses in the synagogue, the program at the Western Wall will feature speeches by rabbis and other dignitaries from across Israel, including Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger, Rabbi Yoram Abargel of Netivot and Rabbi Shmuel Greisman of Kfar Chabad, director of the Torah-writing project. A five-piece band led by Chasidic musician Yoni Shlomo will perform.

Organizers expect in excess of 6,000 people to attend, bolstered by 60 busloads of children from summer camps and yeshiva programs around the country. According to Greisman, letters in a new sixth Torah scroll are already being ordered.

The first Torah was delivered amid similar fanfare 31 years ago, the year the Kaplans’ first child, Devorah Esther, was born. The second scroll was completed in 1986, followed by a third in 1995 and a fourth in 2005, all marked by similar ceremonies in Jerusalem. For the project, the Rebbe appointed Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Henig as a scribe for the scrolls; he’s since been succeeded by his son, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Henig.

An estimated 2 million children have participated in the program since it started, Greisman said.

The Kaplans, who moved from Brooklyn, N.Y., to the northern Israeli city of Safed earlier this year, plan to attend Wednesday’s festivities with two of their grandchildren, Jerusalem residents Mushka Fraida, 6, and Schneur Zalman Goldstein, 5.

“We wouldn’t miss this for the world considering what is going on in the world today,” said the grandfather.

At a Chasidic gathering in 1981, weeks after he had called for the launch of a children’s Torah scroll, the Rebbe spoke about a frightening subject: A madman could theoretically singe-handedly launch destruction upon the world. The Rebbe went on to emphasize that true peace in the world is accomplished through unity.

A Children’s Torah Scroll is paraded through the Western Wall plaza.
A Children’s Torah Scroll is paraded through the Western Wall plaza.

In his public address, the Rebbe stated that “we now live in a world rent with confusion and turmoil … Nowadays, even a single deranged, demented, or frustrated individual who has access to a destructive button or trigger can upset an entire region or country. … Such unprecedented chaos must be countered with unique measures.”

The Rebbe continued that this new campaign for Jewish unity, achieved through a communal children’s Torah in addition to taking the natural steps necessary to achieve peace, would ensure peace in Israel and across the world.

People who witnessed the message saw spiritual importance to the Torah-writing campaign. For them, confirmation came several weeks later when, just before the holiday of Shavuot, the Rebbe suddenly directed all of his emissaries to sign up as many children as possible. It later emerged that on that 1981 afternoon, Israeli air force pilots launched an attack against the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak.

“The Children’s Torah Scroll campaign preceded the bombing of a potentially devastating nuclear reactor,” said the rabbi. “And the world now watches as another madman threatens nuclear activity in the Middle East. Our hope and prayer is that this new Torah scroll will merit a Divine blessing of protection once again.”

A live broadcast of Wednesday’s event can be viewed at the Torah campaign’s website, by clicking here.