The Tale of Two Torahs has a happy ending, and Temple Olam wants to share it.
Not that Cabarrus Countys only Jewish congregation hasnt shed a few tears along the way.
Hopefully, thats behind it now, which is why the members have invited their neighbors to share a momentous occasion in the life of the Jewish faith.
Sunday at 2 p.m., Olam celebrates the arrival of a new Torah (the Hebrew bible), its second since it was formed in 2004.
Well let Rabbi Barbara Thiede explain the significance:
Every child chants from it to mark the passage to adulthood, adults hold it high, carry it and kiss its mantle as it passes by, she says. There is no object more central to Jewish worship than the Torah.
And nothing has caused more heartbreak at Temple Olam.
Joy and tears
The first Torah came from Weldon, a town in eastern North Carolina.
More than a century old, it originated in Eastern Europe, Moravia and Macedonia, stitched together into one scroll from remnants that had survived the Holocaust, when many of the Jewish communities that produced them had not.
It arrived in less than pristine shape nine months after Olam had formed.
Two years later, the temples 12 families, now meeting in McGill Baptist Church, paid for an $8,000 renovation.
When completed, the temple hoped to have added at least two decades to the lifespan of its scroll.
Instead, two years later, Thiede noticed that some lettering had begun to disintegrate. By 2010, Olam had raised $4,000 for a second set of repairs.
As before, New York artist and scribe Neil Yerman did the work.
This time, he offered some advice. Your Torah is like an elder, he told Thiede. It needs to retire.
Thiede said she cried for three days. When she broke the news to her congregation in September, her tears had company.
Thiede moved to Concord in 1993, and for a time she was known affectionately, she says as the town Jew.
When she became the towns rabbi, she and a few ministers tried to launch an interfaith movement. It was small and earnest and it didnt last.
Now shes at it again, using the temples new Torah as spiritual bait.
Yerman found it in September. It comes from the Middle East and cost $12,000. The temple wants to raise another $6,000 Olam has two Torahs to take care of.
So far the temple has pulled together $8,000 in donations and loans. As if by magic, a California benefactor has offered to match up to $6,000 on causes.com.
Now, the members are ready to show their new Torah the town, as long as the town shows up Sunday at McGill Baptist, 5300 Poplar Tent Road, and brings a little cash.
A $10 donation is requested; children under 12 are free. Yerman will speak and sing. People will smile.
Now you can, too.
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