From the Rabbi’s Desk
By Rabbi Stanton Zamek
While our Sofer does not leave Hong Kong until tonight, we finished the last writing appointments yesterday evening. Since the middle of last week, more than two hundred people came to the UJC Sanctuary and commissioned Sofer Jamie Shear to write our Sefer Torah on their behalf- nearly a hundred came on Sunday alone. The members who wrote with Jamie represented the full range of our congregation's diversity. Our most senior members wrote. Babies were coaxed to hand Jamie his quill. Our founders wrote.
Our newest members wrote. Each time a family stepped up to Jamie's writing desk it was a Sinai moment- Matan Torah, the Giving of Torah in miniature.
While the procedure we followed with each person who came to write was similar, each of these ascents of Sinai was different. The Rabbis say that the Torah has seventy faces, but in reality, the Torah has many more faces than this. I know because I saw the wonder of Torah reflected in the eyes of so many of you. Your faces glowed brightly and uniquely in the reflected light of Torah.
Many people shed tears as they watched Jamie write. During one session, a member asked me, "Are we supposed to be quiet like this, or does this just happen?" It just happened. People knew in their bones that they were witnesses to the unfolding of a holy event. They knew they were on sacred ground and awe compelled them to tread carefully and with reverence.
During the hours I watched Jamie write I began to imagine him as a weaver. His writing desk became a loom and his quill was the shuttle. As each person stood beside Jamie and leaned in to marvel at his work, the weft of our community and the warp of the Torah were brought together in a tight, strong weave. The Torah and kahal are now one thing - the finely woven cloth of holiness.
At the serene center of the act ion over the last week was Jamie Shear.
I have watched him work before and marveled at the intensity of his kavanah, the sacred attention/intention he brings to his work. This time we put his kavanah to the test. No matter how many people were in the room, no matter how squirmy a toddler got just over his left shoulder, Jamie wrote calmly and precisely. One by one the beautiful, sacred letters flowed from the quill as if they had always been living inside it, ready to emerge. My admiration of him, already great, grew immensely and I deeply appreciate all that he is doing to make this project a success.
These days have been so rich that I can only give you the smallest taste of what it was like to spend so much time watching our new Sefer Torah come into existence. If it is not already apparent, I will state it explicitly: In fourteen years in the Rabbinate, there is nothing I am prouder of than being a part of this Torah Project. Whether this is your first year as a part of the UJC or your 20th, I hope you feel this pride as well. You earned it.
All Blessings Rabbi Zamek
Office: Jewish Community Centre, I Robinson Place,
70 Robinson Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong