After years of scrambling to borrow Torah scrolls for use at its services, the 30 congregants of Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Center of Marion County, Fla., are elated to have found a solution, thanks to the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach (free loan fund for Torah scrolls).

Working with Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, the Torah fund was able to locate two unused scrolls in upstate New York, and provide one as a free long-term loan to the congregation in Ocala, Fla., and the other to the Chabad-Student Centre of Kingston, Ontario, in Canada.

The Torah scrolls belong to Congregation Ezrath Israel in Ellenville, N.Y. They hadn’t been used for some time and needed a bit of repair. The program’s founder, Benzion Chanowitz of Brooklyn, N.Y., describes how he was inspired to begin the service. “I noticed that many shuls in the New York area possessed an abundance of sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls),” says Chanowitz, who noticed that most would use a maximum of three throughout the year.

“With so many shuls, Chabad Houses, charitable organizations, hospitals and summer camps worldwide lacking Torah scrolls,” he explains, “I felt that if I were to become a shadchan (matchmaker) of sorts, I could make a difference.”

According to those he has served, he's done just that.

Established in memory of his father, Rabbi Yisroel Chanowitz, the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach arranges for the repair and revival of old Torah scrolls, and dispatches them to shuls and Chabad Houses in need of long-term loans. The fund currently has 11 Torah scrolls undergoing repair and 10 on loan to Chabad centers.

Chanowitz estimates that more than 9,000 people have heard Torah readings from scrolls that were provided by the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach. Inspired by the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—Chanowitz says that’s not nearly enough.

“The Rebbe told us not to be content with our accomplishments,” he says. “The Aibershter (the one above, G‑d) put this idea in my head, and I must keep on going.”

Though Chanowitz originally seeded this project, he says that continuing and growing the Torah free loan fund is dependent on incoming donations, as roughly $2,000 is needed to prepare each scroll for use.

“A sefer Torah is foundational for any shul,” attests Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky of Merkos. “And just like any foundation, it is our hope that we will be able to bring even greater strength and stability to the shuls that are able to take advantage of this Torah gemach.”