Ohr HaTorah Welcomes Two New Torah Scrolls

Ohr HaTorah Welcomes Two New Torah Scrolls

The Toco Hills community came together to celebrate and parade with two new Torah scrolls.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

The two Torah scrolls commissioned by Dr. Jay and Mindy Cinnamon and Yael and Justin Katz for Ohr HaTorah. // Credit: Deborah Wenger
The two Torah scrolls commissioned by Dr. Jay and Mindy Cinnamon and Yael and Justin Katz for Ohr HaTorah. // Credit: Deborah Wenger

Many of us have participated in Torah dedications in which Torahs are given to synagogues and schools to mark special occasions. A rare — perhaps once-in-a-lifetime — event took place on Sunday, May 29, when several hundred members of the Toco Hills community came together to celebrate a double Torah dedication. Two Torahs were donated to Congregation Ohr HaTorah on Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Reunification Day.

One year ago, on Shavuot 2021, Dr. Jay and Mindy Cinnamon and Yael and Justin Katz commissioned the writing of two new sifrei Torah — complete Torah scrolls — for Congregation Ohr HaTorah. Each couple had the idea to do so independently, based on their own reasons.

Jay and Mindy Cinnamon.

The novel opportunity to present their synagogue with two Torot on the same day appealed to both donors, and plans were set into motion for the double dedication that took place a full year from the day that they were commissioned. Ohr HaTorah also offered categories of sponsorship to congregants who wished to participate in the creation of the two scrolls.

Both Torot have poignant dedication themes. The Katz Torah was written in memory of Justin’s late father, and also celebrates their son, Jude’s, bar mitzvah, which took place on Shabbat, May 28, the day before the Torah dedication. Jude’s mother, Yael Katz, expressed her family’s dedication aspirations: “This a gift for our shul and also a gift for the community. The residents of Toco Hills never cease to act as a united and extended family. We are grateful to be part of this loving community and honored to celebrate this simcha with so many others.”

The Cinnamon Torah is dedicated to Rabbi Adam Starr and Rebbetzin Talya Gorsetman, in recognition of their bar mitzvah year as Ohr HaTorah’s spiritual leaders. The dedication recognizes their 13 years in Atlanta, which have significantly impacted the congregation, the city of Atlanta and the Jewish world beyond.

Yael and Justin Katz.

Cinnamon revealed a personal motivation, as well. “About 80 years ago, my grandparents, whom I never had the opportunity to know, commissioned a Cinnamon Family Torah for their shul in New York. The Torah, after many years of constant use in two synagogues, is no longer usable. For me, the commissioning of a new Torah is glorious, as it reconstructs the strand of continuity that connects me to the generations before me, even as it, please G-d, will connect us to our children, grandchildren and generations yet to be born.”

It typically takes a full year for a Torah scribe to write a Torah, and it was the goal of the two families to dedicate the Torahs on Yom Yerushalayim, which occurs a week before Shavuot. Yom Yerushalayim marks the anniversary of the liberation and unification of Jerusalem, after thousands of years, which took place during the 1967 Six-Day War.

The parade surrounds the chuppah over the new Torot.

The deadline was met and the Torot were delivered on time. An Ohr HaTorah video was sent to the shul membership showing Rabbi Starr opening cartons containing the densely and protectively packaged Torahs before setting them aside for the dedication.

The festivities began at the Cinnamon home, where the final letters of each Torah were completed by local sofer (scribe), Rabbi Aryeh Asa. As the crowd grew and children made posters, a live band on a decorated flatbed truck led widespread singing and dancing, which flowed into the street. The two scrolls were carried under a handmade chuppah at the center of an exuberant parade heading from the Cinnamons’ street a few blocks down LaVista Road to Congregation Ohr HaTorah.

Along LaVista Road, the moving flatbed band encouraged continuous singing and dancing, with children and teens leading the parade with torches, hand-made signs, decorations and Israeli flags as a nod to Yom Yerushalayim. Once the parade reached Ohr HaTorah, the new Torot were brought into the sanctuary.

A live band enlivens the parade.

The shul’s other scrolls were taken out, and rabbis and congregants from Toco Hills synagogues and other community members sang and danced with them for almost an hour. The lively celebration was followed by remarks from shul president Raanan Gal, Jay Cinnamon and Rabbi Starr.

Rabbi Starr’s emotional d’var Torah emphasized the dedication’s eternal significance. “The Torah is a song that never grows old, always inspiring us and guiding us in the way we lead our lives,” he said. “The name of our shul defines who we are. Ohr HaTorah means Light of Torah. The Torah provides light to a world that is often too dark, and we Jews are privileged to live by and spread that light.”

A Torah scroll is completed.

The Katz and Cinnamon families carried their Torot to the synagogue ark, where they will be used for the Jewish High Holy Days, special occasions and weekly Shabbatot. Upon placing the scrolls in the ark, everyone in attendance joined in singing the traditional song “Etz Chaim Hi” (the Torah is a tree of life) and the shofar was sounded, capturing the aura of communal bonding and joy.

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