More than 40 years after the launch of the first “Unity Torah”—a Torah scroll written for the sake of the unity of the Jewish people worldwide—thousands will gather in Montreal on Sunday, Sept. 10 to honor the completion of the Ninth Unity Sefer Torah, dedicated to the “merit and safety of the people of Ukraine.”

The Montreal area’s 45 or so Chabad-Lubavitch centers, which collectively signed up 55,000 participants for the scroll’s 304,805 letters, will share the Torah scroll in recognition of their diligence and hard work in ensuring it would be completed in this Hakhel year, said Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Oirechman of Chabad of the Krayot, Israel. Oirechman, whose Chabad center serves the cluster of towns north of Haifa, has also led the efforts for each of the nine scrolls since 1981, in which every Jewish person is encouraged to purchase a letter, thus uniting with all other Jewish people.

All the Chabad centers of Quebec will host the completion ceremony at Beth Chabad Cote S. Luc, directed by Rabbi Mendel and Sarah Raskin. The conclusion of the writing of the Torah is dedicated to Briena bas Sima Alta for a refuah shleima u’mehira, a complete and speedy recovery. The event will draw guests from Canada, the United States and Israel at their Chabad center. Meanwhile, in Israel, a scribe will at the same time begin writing the 10th Unity Torah.

The ceremony, which will include musical performances and inspirational addresses, will be broadcast live on beginning on Sunday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The idea for a Unity Torah was first introduced by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, on the evening before Rosh Hashanah 5742 (1981), who explained that such a joint, global project would further the unity Jews share with one another, with the Torah and with G‑d. He encouraged Jews worldwide to participate by purchasing at least one letter in what became known as a “Unity Torah Scroll.”

While the first six Unity Torah scrolls each went to a different community in Israel, the seventh Unity Torah Scroll was the first taken outside the Holy Land, with its final letters penned in New York during the 2015 International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries. The scroll was paraded through the streets in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn and then placed in the synagogue adjacent to the Ohel, the resting place of the Rebbe in Queens. The eighth Unity Torah was completed in Toronto.

Rabbi Yitzchak Pruss, today a teacher at a yeshivah high school in Brooklyn, was a student rabbi serving in Melbourne, Australia, in 1981. “The Rebbe explained that when you take a bunch of fragile twigs and put them together, nothing can break them,” he recalls. “So, too, when the Jewish people unite together, nothing can overcome them. When there’s unity among Jews in working together, what seems impossible can really happen.”

When the first scroll was completed—just three months after the Rebbe had first spoken of it—he noted that in challenging times, uniting world Jewry in a way as had been accomplished through the “Unity Torah” would help bring protection to those who participate and stability to the world at large.

Additionally, the Rebbe stressed that taking part in helping finance a Torah scroll, regardless of the size of the monetary contribution—each letter is sold for a token amount—fulfills the biblical commandment for each Jew to write a Torah. While recognizing that each Jew has a unique mission, the Rebbe explained that one means of uniting all Jews is through the eternally true Torah, shared equally by all Jews.

Brainchild of an Immigrant from the Former Soviet Union

The initial idea for one Torah scroll that would unite every Jew in the world came from Yisrael Gottlieb, at the time a recent immigrant to Haifa from the Soviet Union.

Earlier that year, the Rebbe had announced a campaign to write a Children’s Torah Scroll—which, as the name suggests, was to unite Jewish children around the world—and Gottlieb, who’d become quadriplegic through a tragic traffic accident, thought it might be a good idea to extend the unity Torah scroll to adults as well, regardless of geography, health and socioeconomic differences. One of Gottlieb’s most frequent visitors was his local Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Oirechman. When Oirechman next visited him, Gottlieb asked to dictate a letter to the Rebbe laying out his idea, which Oirechman could bring to the Rebbe during the rabbi’s upcoming trip to Crown Heights.

An enormous crowd gathers for the very first celebration of the Unity Torah in Meron, Israel.
An enormous crowd gathers for the very first celebration of the Unity Torah in Meron, Israel.

The Rebbe responded to the idea with enthusiasm. Within days, a group of Haifa-area Chabad activists formed a committee to commission a new Torah and keep track of letter sales. By the following Passover, 304,805 Jews had stepped forward to each purchase a letter in what the Rebbe referred to as “Sefer Torah Haklali—“The General Torah.” Some six months later, the final writing of the Torah took place in the mountain-top village of Meron on Lag BaOmer, drawing a massive, celebratory crowd.

Oirechman has continued organizing the writing of each Torah in Israel to this day. When, back in 1981, he asked the Rebbe whether his group should continue to commission another scroll after they’d completed the first, the Rebbe replied that they should—on the condition that another and yet another be written. It should continue, the Rebbe told him, “as long as there is a single Jew who needs to purchase a letter.”

Letters in the Unity Torah Scroll can be purchased here on