A New York City preschool has embarked on a campaign to write a Torah scroll in memory of a toddler who perished in a tragic accident 20 years ago.

Some 85 preschoolers and many of their parents joined neighbors and Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger for a ceremony earlier this week at the Preschool of the Arts that marked the beginning of the project. Participants watched a scribe and guests write the first few letters in the Torah scroll, which will be dedicated to the preschool's operator, the Chabad Center for Jewish Discovery/Chabad-Lubavitch of Gramercy Park.

The scroll is in memory of Assaf Tessler, son of Yitzchak and Tamar Tessler, who died just before his third birthday.

"What is so special is that this Torah is in memory of a child and is for children," said preschool director Sarah Rotenstreich, who also serves as co-director along with husband Rabbi Naftali Rotenstreich of the Gramercy Park Chabad House.

Efraim Tessler saw in the project a merit to serve his brother in the spiritual realms.

"It's a good thing for his neshama," he said, using the Hebrew word for "soul."

Naftali Rotenstreich expressed gratitude to the Tesslers for the Chabad center's first Torah scroll, and for the work they did in helping to expand the center's building.