A year ago, Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz and his wife Dini decided they would write a Torah. It was his 41st birthday, and he had just been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“We decided to start working really hard on this dream of his, so we had the beginning of the writing of the Torah on Tu B’Av”—the 15th day of the Jewish month of Av, the Jewish “day of love and rebirth”—which last year occurred on July 22, she recalls.

They found a scribe to write the Torah and the financial support to make it happen. On Sunday, it was completed. The main scribe had left about 70 letters blank, which another scribe filled in during a community celebration with their Chabad House—the Chabad Center, Temecula Valley in California.

In a moving moment, Dini Hurwitz describes “my husband filled in the last letter. It was very special.” Then came a Torah procession, dancing, and a buffet lunch.

Hundreds of people turned out for the festivities; in fact, a tent had to be set up alongside their storefront center to accommodate the 300 to 400 guests and keep them out of the rains that have sopped California in the past week.

Hurwitz recalled the overwhelming joy at the Torah celebration, where they were joined by the rabbi’s parents, as well as aunts and uncles who flew in from New York, and friends who came from as far as Holland and Hong Kong. To add to the merriment, it was a day before her husband’s 42nd birthday.

“When we started, we called this the ‘Torat Chaim’ in the hope that it would bring a good, healthy life for my husband,” she says. “But looking at the event, looking at how it all came together, I almost feel like it should be called the ‘Torah of Love’ because it was really written with so much love.”

Hurwitz spent Monday, the rabbi’s birthday, packing up her house in Temecula. The family is relocating to Los Angeles, where their older children go to school.

Hurwitz fills in the final letter in the Torah scroll as his wife, Dini, and his family look on.
Hurwitz fills in the final letter in the Torah scroll as his wife, Dini, and his family look on.

But she’ll be back soon, she insists, explaining that they’re not leaving the community, but rather, expect to be there every other weekend as long as they are able to, under the circumstances. This Purim will mark 15 years since the couple first arrived there.

For now, she says, they are leaving the “wonderful community” in the very capable hands of Rabbi Sholom and Chaya Mushka Katz.

“Hopefully, G‑d will send a miracle,” says Hurwitz, “and we’ll move back” to Temecula full time.