web analytics
April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 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
Map of Gaza City rocket launcher sites in school yard. July 22, 2014
UN Admits: UN Schools and Facilities Used by Hamas Terrorists
Latest News Stories
Daniel Cole and Mendy Losh

The families of two American Jews began breathing again early Monday after Danny Cole and Mendy Losh “phoned home” from a small village thousands of feet high on Mount Everest to say they’re still safe.

Map of Gaza City rocket launcher sites in school yard. July 22, 2014

UN admits Israel was right – Hamas attacked Israelis from UN facilities. Oops.

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), co-sponsor of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

Senators want Iran to recognize Israel, release Jason Rezaian and for the President to certify Iran isn’t targeting US citizens…

Princeton University students voted down an Israel Divestment referendum in April, 2015.

The divestment measures are driven by hatred of Israel, not humanitarian concerns about Arabs.

Eleven Israelis, including 3 babies were returned to Israel from Nepal overnight. Here’s one of them.

No one was hurt because the bus was empty. No one heard about it because of the politically (in)correct media.

Biotech giant and cash-rich Gilead Sciences will open a marketing office in Israel, Globes Business news reported, making the company the first new generation American biotech firm to do so in the country. NewPharm in Israel markets Gilead’s products to the tune of tens of millions of dollars year, and the local company said Gilead […]

Israel leads rescue efforts. Death toll will rise. Thousands are homeless. Below: Dramatic as-it-happened video.

No matter who was behind the attack, Hezbollah knows it has more than one enemy.

The left-wing party’s problem is that the ministry spent more money to promote Judaism than democracy.

Arab sources report the IAF destroyed a missile site and killed Syrian soldiers.

The 4 terrorists were trying to plant a bomb in Israel on the Golan Heights.

The first group of rescued Israelis from Nepal are to arrive home on an IAF airlift in the wee hours of Monday with 3 premature babies.

Chabad co-emissary Chani Lifshiftz says “hundreds of Israelis” arrive safely at the Chabad House after deadly quake in Nepal.

Vying for dominance in the WZO election, are movements within our nation which seek to undermine and subvert Orthodox Judaism.

British MP Ed Miliband has again been targeted, this time in a political campaign for being “the Jew.”

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: