web analytics
May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Sefer Torah Represents a First for Canadian City

The Torah they got “is a piece of art. It is one of the most beautiful Torahs anyone's ever seen…”
Stephen Cipes carries the newly written Torah scroll he donated to the Chabad center in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

Stephen Cipes carries the newly written Torah scroll he donated to the Chabad center in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo Credit: Chabad.org

At first glance, it looked like any other community day in the park. Kids dabbled on arts-and-crafts projects while the adults mingled, enjoying refreshments on a nearby table as a band played in the background.

But a few details hinted that this Sept. 10 festival was unlike any other the city of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada had ever seen—namely, the tent just off to the side, where a bearded gentleman sat with a quill in hand and a large Torah scroll open on a table before him.

The pomp and circumstance went hand in hand to mark the completion and dedication of a brand-new Torah scroll for the two-year-old Chabad-Lubavitch of the Okanagan, co-directed by Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy Hecht.

“People were just flabbergasted, and so excited to have a Sefer Torah,” said Rabbi Hecht. “People in the community came over to me in tears telling me how happy they are living in this small town, and who would have ever thought we’d get to write our own Sefer Torah?”

Hecht noted that the date was chosen to recognize the yahrtzeit, the anniversary of the passing of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, mother of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Community member Stephen Cipes acknowledged the “great deal of support, merriment and gaiety” at the celebration. “It was very meaningful.”

Of some 117,000 residents in Kelowna, Hecht estimates that maybe 1,000 are Jewish. And while Kelowna is the largest city in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, how did this relatively quiet area—a full 4½-hour drive northeast of Vancouver—end up with its own Torah?

‘A Nice Coincidence’

According to Hecht, the story goes back several months ago to the Jewish festival of Shavuot.

For that holiday—held this year in mid-May and which commemorates G‑d’s giving of the Torah at Sinai—Hecht needed to borrow a Torah scroll from a synagogue in Vancouver, since Chabad Kelowna didn’t have one of its own. Having secured one, he then sent out invitations to the community to attend a lively holiday service.

Cipes, originally from New York, and his adult sons were among those who took the rabbi up on the invite. “It was a wonderful time we had,” recalled Cipes, adding that two of his sons were even honored with an aliyah, being called up to the Torah as it was read aloud.

After services, Cipes and his son Ezra went to talk to the rabbi. That’s when Stephen Cipes announced that he wanted to buy a Torah.

“I was just inspired, and I stood up and made the gesture spontaneously,” said Cipes. “I really didn’t even know we didn’t have a Torah,” he said, because one was present during the service. As for the timing—making a pledge to buy a scroll on the day Jews celebrate G‑d’s giving of the Torah—Cipes noted that it was a “nice coincidence.”

Hecht recalled telling Cipes after his announcement “how amazing it was that on the day of Shavuot when the Jewish people received the first Torah, how honored we are that on that day we received our first Torah.”

Given that it can cost between $20,000 and $60,000 to purchase a new Torah scroll, it is often not something most Chabad houses can do when they are first getting off the ground. (The cost is due to the meticulous work and significant time it takes for the sofer, the scribe, to compose the scroll.)

During the next few months, Hecht located a Torah scroll being written in Israel and arranged for Cipes to purchase it with a planned completion marked for the High Holidays.

The Torah they got, said Cipes, “is a piece of art. It is one of the most beautiful Torahs anyone’s ever seen … .”

And in that beautiful scroll, Cipes and other community members had a hand in physically helping to complete the final letters on that early September day in the park.

“Everyone got to do a letter from their Hebrew name, which was exciting,” said Hecht, noting that this Torah is believed to be the first ever written for Jews living in the Okanagan Valley.

Among those who wrote in the scroll was Chabad supporter Lesley Spiegel, who stood in for her husband, Timothy, who was on a plane at the time. Reflecting on that moment, Spiegel said, “Honestly, it happened so quickly that I had difficulty collecting my thoughts and trying to understand the scribe at the same time. When I thought about the whole experience later, I was very emotional. I have never seen a Torah up close!”

About the Author: Chabad.org is a division of the Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center, under the auspices of the Lubavitch World Headquarters


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Sefer Torah Represents a First for Canadian City”

  1. Lloyd Bergner says:

    Stephen Cipes has performed a great Mitzvah and will be blessed

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
Ted Cruz Calls for Financial Boycott of Universities Backing BDS Israel
Latest News Stories
PA's soccer chief Jibril Rajoub, a member of the Fatah Central Committee.

FIFA’s Palestinian Authority soccer chief dropped the ball on his own head.

The IDF’s annual exercise “Turning Point 15″ will begin Sunday to help it evaluate various warning alert systems and public preparedness in emergency situations. The Home Front Command, Defense Ministry, the Air Force, Navy and other security forces and local authorities will participate in the week-long exercises. On Tuesday, sirens will sound throughout the country […]

The snake that Palestinian Arabs prepared for the IDF and Border Police.

It’s kind of strange that the new weapon is being used by those who call Jews “snakes.”

Rabbi David Kaduri.

The son of the late Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri is fighting for his life.

Cruz said everything the GOP’s Sheldon Big Bucks Adelson wanted to hear, but wouldn’t it be better to let BDS die from lack brain disease?

Israel praises FIFA for avoiding what Israel’s deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely called an “absurd situation.”

FIFA Pres. Sepp Blatter, 79, was re-elected to a fifth term heading the world soccer federation, despite bribery allegations.

At the last minute before the proposal was to go to vote, Rajoub submitted an amendment that would cancel the bid to suspend Israel.

Zurich police have confirmed there was a bomb threat to blow up the FIFA congress, but they have since allowed the annual convention to continue following a search.

Israeli Consul General refutes UJA president’s claim that government insists NIF march in Celebrate Israel parade.

They stopped Blatter from speaking, waved PA flags and demanded “Israel out.”

Reishit HaGez is the giving to the Kohen the first cuttings of the fleece of sheep grown in the Land of Israel (based on Deut. 18:4: “You are to give them the first fruits of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the first wool from the shearing of your sheep.”). Most Jews cannot […]

Postal officials refuse mailmen’s request to be relieved of the job to deliver Baptist cult material that may be illegal.

Final steps are underway for building the City of David’s “Kedem” visitor’s center in Jerusalem that will sit on top of the “Givati Parking Lot” excavation just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls. The visitor’s center will serve as an entryway to the Jerusalem Walls National Park, which includes the City of David […]

The Orthodox Union, B’nai Brith and the Houston Federation are pitching in.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared Sunday, May 31 as “Celebrate Israel Day,” when thousands of Israeli Americans, Jews and supporters of Israel are to attend the Celebrate Israel Boston Festival sponsored by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Israeli-American Council Boston Chapter. Gov. Baker noted that Israel remains “a tremendous partner, economically and culturally,” to […]

More Articles from Chabad.org
A rocket fell near a Synagogue in the Ukraine during some of the worst of the fighting between pro-Russia separatists and government forces. (archive)

“This is yet another extraordinarily difficult day that we have endured, and sadly, we have recently known many especially difficult and terrible days.”

Gabriel Felder was selected for the prestigious honor of representing his graduating class at The George Washington University commencement, marking the second year in a row that a Jewish student leader has done so.

Felder said he and his fellow students learned well the teaching of the Rebbe.

Chabad Rabbi Michael Oishie had left the building just 20 minutes before the attack.

Canadian Chabad rabbis accompanied Harper on his trip.

“It was quite an institutionalized racism, and we didn’t come to get involved in politics.”

Gematria is more than random wordplay.

We are brought into this confusing, fascinating, infuriating world for such a short amount of time, and it’s our mission to accomplish what we can for the several decades we are allotted.

If one has only enough money to afford either a cup of wine for Shabbat kiddush or oil for his Hanukkah lamp, the mitzvah of Hanukkah takes precedence.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/sefer-torah-represents-a-first-for-canadian-city/2013/10/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: