A Torah originally commissioned in Eastern Europe before World War II was rededicated Aug. 20 to Chabad of Baton Rouge.
After an almost year-long search, the Torah scroll, in which the Five Books of Moses are hand-inscribed on specially prepared parchment, was purchased by Dr. Tere Vives, of New Orleans, on behalf of the Jewish faith organization in Baton Rouge.
"She felt this was something she really wanted to do; she knows it's going to spur a tremendous amount of growth — God-willing — to Jewish activity here," said Rabbi Peretz Kazen, of Chabad Baton Rouge.
The Torah was first used in Eastern Europe pre-WWII, but was placed in hiding during the war, Vives said. The Torah was then, at some point, taken to Israel before it was brought to the U.S., she said. Vives said she purchased the sacred script in New York.
"(Chabad of Baton Rouge) didn't have a Torah," Vives said. "I just wanted to do something for them."
Kazen explained how the historic Torah needed some maintenance, but overall it was a blessing to receive a completed Torah.
Creating a Torah typically takes more than a year, as each Hebrew letter is handwritten by a scribe using a feather quill and written on a kosher animal hide. One mistake in the writing can require the scribe to start over.
Leo Kukuy, 30, was asked by leaders of Chabad of Baton Rouge to make the Torah ark, a decorated cabinet used to store the Torah when not in use. A woodworker by trade and a member of the Jewish faith, Kukuy said he was happy to create the new home for the Torah.