Three decades ago on his birthday, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, spoke of the special power children have to make the world a better place. All over the globe, their “very breath free of sin,” they could fuel a dramatic demonstration of unity that could change the planet.

In order to accomplish this, the Rebbe urged that every Jewish child should 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.

Every Torah scroll contains 304,805 letters, and writing a complete one usually takes a whole year. But the scribes worked so quickly, and the campaign – backed by rabbinical leaders in New York and Israel, such as Rabbi Israel Abuchatzera and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein – sparked such enthusiasm that the first Children’s Torah Scroll was completed just three and a half months later. Today, the fifth Children’s Torah Scroll is nearing completion. With only 62,882 letters left to be purchased, officials with the umbrella organization of Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis in Israel have launched an appeal to increase registration.

Calling it “30 years - 30 letters,” they are asking every family to work on getting 30 children to buy letters in the special scroll.

“If every family participates,” says Rabbi Shmuel Greisman, director of the Children’s Torah Scroll campaign, “we could complete this scroll and have enough children signed up to complete another one.”

Greisman speaks passionately about how important this campaign was to the Rebbe, recalling how he would speak about it frequently.

Then-Israeli President Yitzhak Navon buys a letter for his son in the Children’s Torah Scroll.
Then-Israeli President Yitzhak Navon buys a letter for his son in the Children’s Torah Scroll.

“Everyone got so involved, because the Rebbe spoke about it nonstop back then, telling them to finish, finish, finish,” relates the rabbi. “It was overwhelming.”

Things came to a head during a Chasidic gathering that year, when the Rebbe spoke about a frightening subject: that a madman could theoretically push a button and singe-handedly launch destruction upon the world. The Rebbe went on to emphasize that true peace in the world is accomplished through unity.

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.”

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

The Rebbe continued that this new campaign for Jewish unity achieved through the 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 world hasn’t changed all that much, says Greisman. The events of today, he emphasizes, cry out for the need for unity.

Letters in the Children’s Torah Scroll can be purchased online by clicking here.