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Korea’s Jewish community celebrates arrival of new Torah

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Published : 2012-03-06 13:46
Updated : 2012-03-06 19:56

The Jewish Community of Korea welcomed its first-ever Torah scroll at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul on Sunday.

Inviting an expert scribe in from Israel, Jewish people in Korea got the rare chance to help complete the final letters of the scroll.

“I’m delighted,” said Rabbi Osher Litzman, head of the community here. “We have waited a long time for this to happen and now it’s finally here. It’s a big milestone in the development of our Jewish community.”
Rabbi Osher Litzman (center) and family pose with a scribe (right) after completing the second-to-last letter of the Torah on Sunday.(Paul Kerry/The Korea Herald)

Litzman said that he had been planning to bring a Torah to Korea since his arrival in the country four years ago.

In a speech at the event, Israeli Ambassador Tuvia Israeli noted the significance of the Jewish community here getting its first Torah.

“If there is any other reason this gathering is important, that’s to show there is Jewish life in Korea,” he added.

“Each one of us should be very happy and thankful to live in Korea through this important step. Of course, this will not be finished until we have our own synagogue, but as Rabbi Litzman says: this will come.”

The Torah is one of the most sacred objects in Judaism, consisting of the first five books of the Bible written by a special scribe.

Consisting of 600,000 handwritten letters on dozens of pieces of parchment, it usually takes more than a year to complete the scroll.

While the Torah itself must be made according to strict standards, it is possible for communities to express some of their identity on the cover.

The cover of the new Torah had a picture combining a menorah with Seoul Tower, the latter forming the central candle.

After the scroll was completed, the community paraded the new Torah through the streets to the Chabad Jewish Community Center.

By Paul Kerry (paulkerry@heraldcorp.com)

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