A 150-year old Torah, stored in a closet and only recently evaluated by an expert scribe, will be used for the first time in 40 years or more Sept. 1, during the Bat Mitzvah of Alaina Swartz, Clarks Summit, daughter of Rabbi Daniel Swartz and Roya Fahmy. Rabbi Swartz and his wife, Rabbi Marjorie Berman, will preside at the service.
According to Rabbi Gedalia Druin, president of Sofer on Site, this more-than-150 year old scroll is probably Temple Hesed's original Torah. The Torah is among the most sacred objects in a synagogue. It contains the text of the Five Books of Moses. Each Torah is copied by hand on animal skins that are sewn together.
The congregation of Temple Hesed recently celebrated its 150th anniversary. According to Swartz, there are reasons to believe this Torah may have been used by original members of the congregation.
"It's from the right part of Central Europe where our congregation came from," he said. "It's also in the right time frame to have been brought over.
"We're not certain, but there is a good chance it may be the original Torah of our congregation."
This scroll is unusual, not only because of its age, but also because the original sofer (scribe) used special kabbalistic (mystical) letters throughout the Torah.
According to Rabbi Swartz, this Torah is difficult to read because it uses an entirely different alphabet with no vowels.
Alaina Swartz will read and chant a section of the scroll during the ceremony.
Rabbi Swartz added that the Torah has deteriorated over the years and will need about $3,000 of repairs, although he said it's "fortunate" the part his daughter will read is "very clear."