Wellington celebrates its first sefer torah

December 5, 2016 Agencies
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The Wellington orthodox Jewish community in New Zealand has celebrated the dedication of the first sefer Torah to be written specifically for the congregation in its 173-year history.

The last letters Photo: Michelle Jacobson

The last letters Photo: Michelle Jacobson

The project to write a sefer Torah specifically for the community was initiated by life-long community member Martin Chait before he passed away last year aged 75. Martin was a well-known local personality as the owner of a popular delicatessen and two cafes.

Speaking before he passed away Martin Chait said “I have lived a blessed life, a happy life. It is my pleasure to help give something back to the community.”

The project was completed by Martin Chait’s family with the help of generous supporters from Wellington and beyond in time for the Torah to be dedicated a few days after his stone setting.


Photo: Michelle Jacobson

Speaking on behalf of the Chait family, Martin Chait’s daughter Sarah Chowen said “My father spent the last months of his life dedicated to this project. It’s been an honour to continue my father’s mission and making his dream of leaving this lasting legacy for the community a reality.”

“We’ve been delighted that family members could participate in fulfilling my father’s legacy with my brother Ari Chait writing a letter in the Torah, and my sister, our mother, our aunt – Martin’s sister – and I all helping stitch the Torah together and attach it to its eitz chaim (rollers).”

Wellington Jewish Community Centre Chairperson Prof Claire Massey said “This is a momentous milestone for our congregation. We’ve used many sifrei Torah over the years but they’ve all been written for or brought from other communities elsewhere. This is the first to be written in New Zealand specifically for our congregation.”

The Wellington Jewish Community Centre’s rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Mizrahi, noted “For many in the community this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fulfil the mitzvah of writing a Torah. We’re blessed that Martin Chait has continued to contribute to our community even after his passing by giving so many the opportunity to participate in this mitzvah.”

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