A brand new Sefer Torah was dedicated in memory of Rabbi Mendel Deutch HYD to the local Chabad Shul in Zhitomir.
The Jewish community in Zhitomir merited a triple celebration in the third month, the month when the Jewish People received the Torah at Mount Sinai.
It began in Moscow, the capital of Russia, and ended in the “Ohr Avner Educational Village” near Zhitomir in Western Ukraine. It was an unforgettable celebration with esteemed Rabbis, honored Shluchim, dear Supporters, and many guests who all danced together, rejoicing with the new Torah scroll.
Ever since the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s emissary, Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm has arrived to Zhitomer, its Yiddishkeit has begun to flourish, with Rabbis and Shluchim joining many more cities and regions in the area, and turning them into flowering gardens of Jewry.
About two years ago, a new Torah scroll was started at the Shaarey Tzedek Chesed Center of Moscow with Chief Rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar’s participation. It was to be in honor of a dear friend of the center, Rabbi Yitzchak HaKohen Kogan, also known as the Tzaddik of Leningrad, who serves as the Shliach and Rabbi of the Bolshaya Bronaya Shul in Moscow’s center.
Many friends and supporters sponsored parts of this Torah scroll which was written over the course of two years. When news of the tragic and untimely passing of the chossid Rabbi Mendel Deutch arrived, Rabbi Kogan requested that this Torah scroll be in Rabbi Duetch’s memory and that it be gifted to the shul near the place where he was murdered. It is not surprising therefore, that the event was a very emotional one, encompassing appreciation as well as the joy of a mitzvah, with many of Rabbi Duetch’s family members arriving from afar to celebrate the completion of this Torah scroll.
The many guests who arrived from Moscow traveled together with the rest of the participants to the old shul of the holy Baal Shem Tov, where the final letters were inscribed in the Torah scroll. From there they marched to the gravesite of the Baal Shem Tov, with the Torah carried aloft under a beautiful canopy, while the crowds danced alongside it through the village’s ancient alleyways. After davening together for all of the jews in the FSU, the crowd was bussed in an organized fashion to the city of Zhitomir. There Rabbi Kogan was honored with affixing the mezuzah to the beautiful new shul which is being built by the Shliach and Rabbi of Zhitomir Rabbi Wilhelm. The shul includes a luxurious mikva, classrooms, a Torah library, and plenty of space for the many programs and activities of Zhitomir’s Jewish community.
At the entrance to Zaretchany – the “Ohr Avner Educational Village” adjacent to Zhitomir, the village’s students were standing ready. There were students from the orphanage, from the Talmud Torah, and from the Ohr Avner school, and they were all holding lit torches. A horse and wagon carrying an orchestra was there as well, and the entire crowd burst into song and dance in honor of the new Torah. Together they marched and danced until the new shul, “Ohr Meir”, – which was named after the holy Rabbi Zev Wolff of Zhitomir who is buried there – and will continued to serve the community in addition to the old shul in the center of the village.
At the entrance to the new shul, Ukraine shliach Rabbi Moshe Asman was honored with affixing the mezuzah. Joyful Hakafos with the new Torah scroll took place inside, followed by the first every minyan for mincha in this building.
The festive seudas mitzvah, which turned into a big chassidishe farbrengen took place in the large hall of the “village restaurant”. The head table was graced with the esteemed Rabbis: Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm – Zhitomir, Rabbi Yitzchak Kogan – Moscow, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Duetch – Yerushalaim, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Orechman –Krayot, Rabbi Moshe Asman – Kiev, Rabbi Zalman Deutch – Perm, Rabbi Shneur Zalman Bukiet – Zhitomir, Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Deutch – Israel, and more.
Certificates of appreciation were awarded to those who sponsored parshios – friends of the chesed center in Moscow. In the name of the Jewish community and educational institutions of Zhitomir, a special certificate of appreciation was bestowed by Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm to Rabbi Kogan in honor of this special Hachnasat Sefer Torah.
It was late at night when the uplifting farbrengen came to an end. The very next morning, during the morning prayers, the new Torah scroll was already read from.
Photosby M. Yerushalmi