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Sunday, April 11, 2004

Sefer Torah Goes To Washington

Scroll Memorializes Victims Of Arab Terror
by Shmuel Ben Eliezer at JewishPress.com

In a historic event last week, dozens of U.S. senators and members of Congress lined up to have a letter written in their honor in a sefer Torah. This unique Torah was written in memory of all the victims of Arab terror over the last decade, including the victims of 911 and the intifada in Israel as well as others such as Ari Halbertstam, Rabbi Meir Kahane and Leon Klinghoffer.

The project was the brainchild of New Yorkers Carolyn Roiter and Simon Jacobson, who felt the need for a meaningful recognition of the victim’s sacrifice of their lives. Roiter and Jacobson commissioned the Torah to be written by Brooklyn sofer Rabbi Moshe Klein.

In the time it took to finish the writing, more than 400 additional victims lost their lives to Arab terror.

To commemorate the individual victims, their names were embroidered on a special Torah cover. The list continued to grow, until it now contains more than a thousand names.

A special breastplate was also fashioned to commemorate the victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

The Torah scroll was brought to the Senate through the efforts of Congressmen Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), together with the Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

The ceremony took place on the same day in which the majority of UN Security Council members were voting to censure Israel for its fight against terror.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers on Capitol Hill expressed their support for America’s solidarity with Israel in her fight against terror. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who participated in the ceremony and is one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in the Senate, pointed out that he has worn a mezuzah around his neck for the past 20 years to remind him continually of G-d and Israel.

Cantor told the audience that the event was especially significant for him personally because his son had recently celebrated his bar mitzvah on Parshat Yitro, which recounts the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Many of the legislators spoke of their visits to Israel, where some witnessed the effects of terror attacks firsthand, and vowed to continue to stand firm in the fight against terror wherever it occurs.

The sefer Torah will travel to communities around the country until all the letters are filled in, giving as many people as possible the opportunity participate in an act that unifies the nation in the struggle against terror.

Eventually, the Torah will be donated for use at the Kotel, where it will be used by the Jewish people for years to come, linking past with future and representing a future of peace without terror.