The Art Of The Scribe

With great joy, American Friends of Neve Hanna launched the Neve Hanna Torah Project on May 28, 2019. Rabbi Liron Levy of Neve Hanna and Sofer Rabbi Hanna Klabanksy will be leading the workshops at the Neve Hanna Children’s Home, working with the children and staff, on the writing of a Sephardic Torah scroll for the children of Neve Hanna.

With that in mind, there are three basic skills necessary for a scribe. The first is simply the ability to write the letters over and over.  There are very few strokes involved, but constantly writing them ensures that the aleph in Brayshit at the beginning of the Torah looks exactly like the aleph in Yisrael at its end.

The second skill is knowing all the laws, and for every letter, there are twenty to thirty laws that regulate how it is written.  The third skill is the most difficult.  When a sofer sits down to write, he/she must have emunah, a complete faith, that as he/she writes their letters, they are linked to God.  If he/she doesn’t have that concentration when he/she is writing any one letter, the entire sefer Torah is considered not kasher, not usable. This is not an easy task.

When a sofer has mastered these skills, he/she begins to use the traditional tools of parchment, ink and writing implement.  Everything must be from a kosher animal or a kosher substance.

For the writing implement, if you had lived in Europe, you would have used goose feathers.  If you lived in Yemen or Morocco, where there were no geese, you would have used a sharpened bamboo shoot.

The second item is the parchment, the klaf.  We use only the finest parchment from very young or unborn calves.

The ink for the Torah has three basic ingredients:  afatzim, the tannic acid produced from blackened oak leaves in which wasps have made their nests; a gum base which makes the ink stretch so the letters don’t crack; and magnesium.  All the ingredients are natural and the ink must be very black.

With these basic tools, the sofer is ready.  Because a sefer Torah has to be written meticulously, each column takes 4 to five hours of painstaking work.  When the sofer finishes one column, it is enough for the day.   In this way, over a year, he/she can complete a full Torah.

Writing a Torah from beginning to end is an experience that is very hard to describe.  It is best understood by combining the first and last letter of that Torah.  The first letter is bet, and the last letter is lamed.  Together they spell layv or heart. All of B’nai Israel have one layv; the Torah is the heart of the people.   It’s our source; it’s where we get our strength.

 

Celebrate Jewish Heritage Month

Visit a Jewish museum or a site of historical Jewish interest. Visit a Jewish museum, a Holocaust memorial museum, New York City’s Tenement Museum…the list goes on, and nearly all of these museums offer online experiences and exhibits, too. You can also visit an historic synagogue for a look at your local Jewish history.

Eat something Jewish. Whip up your bubbe’s favorite recipe! Not a big cook? Have lunch at your local Jewish delicatessen. What’s more Jewish-American than corned beef on rye and don’t forget the pickle!

Read something Jewish. Whether you choose a book about religion, about the Jewish American experience, or just something written by an American Jew, there’s plenty to choose from.

Research your family’s history. Try to determine when the first members of your family immigrated to America, then create a family tree for future family members to cherish. Take it a step further by recording an interview with your oldest living relatives to create a digital history of your family’s Jewish history.

Watch something Jewish. Choose a film about the Jewish-American experience, or tune into something by Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks, J.J. Abrams, or another favorite Jewish director.

Raise your voice, Jewishly. As Jews in a democratic society, we have the privilege and the responsibility to make our voices and views heard on ethical and moral matters. Get involved in Jewish social justice work on a national scale.

Become a member of a synagogue. What better way to show your commitment to American Judaism than by joining a congregation?

Support your favorite Jewish organization. Do your part to further and strengthen the work of the Jewish people by making a one-time or recurring contribution to a Jewish nonprofit that’s near to your heart.  May we recommend Neve Hanna Children’s Home at http://www.afnevehanna.org  (hint, hint)  

How are you, your family and friends celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month? Let us know in the comments below.

 

B'nai Mitzvah

L’Chaim! To Life!

With the passing holidays of Purim and Pesach, we now take this opportunity to check in with ourselves, reflect, set some goals and take stock of what’s coming up in the months ahead.  It is also a time to remind ourselves to live a happier, healthier and more meaningful life.  This is a philosophy we teach to ourselves and to our Children at Neve Hanna.

Here are some quotes and philosophy to ponder on.

A righteous man falls down seven times and gets up.” – King Solomon, Proverbs, 24:16.

Life is all about the ability to get up from challenge. Greatness is defined as getting up one more time than what you’ve fallen down.

“If you don’t know what you’re living for, you haven’t yet lived.” – Rabbi Noah Weinberg, of blessed memory

Life is the most precious thing we have. Everyone wants to live a life of meaning. But we are so busy ‘living’ that we don’t have a moment to really think about living.

“A righteous man falls down seven times and gets up.” – King Solomon, Proverbs, 24:16.

Life is all about the ability to get up from challenge. Greatness is defined as getting up one more time than what you’ve fallen down.

“I don’t speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don’t have the power to remain silent” – Rabbi A.Y. Kook

This quote embodies the depth of love every Jew needs to feel for another. The connection between Jews is instinctive, therefore one has no choice but to speak.

“People often avoid making decisions out of fear of making a mistake. Actually the failure to make decisions is one of life’s biggest mistakes.” – Rabbi Noah Weinberg.

This quote inspires me to keep taking the risks I need in order to grow.

“There are no problems, only opportunities for growth.” – Rebbetzin Dena Weinberg

Words are powerful; as soon as you re-frame from “problem” to “opportunity,” you pull down the covers, get out of bed, pull up your boot straps and rise to the occasion. No one wants problems, but who doesn’t want opportunities?

“Torah is not education, it’s transformation.” – Rebbitzen Dena Weinberg

If you are just learning Torah for the education and not growing and transforming yourself, you are not really learning Torah.

And my personal favorite… “L’Chaim!” – a traditional Jewish toast.

Jews appreciate every moment of life. It doesn’t matter if things are going the way you want them, stop and pause, and raise your glass to the delicious opportunity life is giving you right now. You’ll never get that moment back again.

How do you live a healthier, happier and more meaningful life — emotionally, spiritually and physically? Please write us or leave a comment.  We would love to hear your thoughts.

Sandy's Greenhouse

Our Planet, Our Future

Every day is earth day at the Neve Hanna Children’s Home in Israel.  Through education, our children learn there are many things they can do to help improve and protect the earth.

Through the Horticultural Therapy program, our children learn where their fruit and vegetables come from, as well as how much effort, care and natural resources are needed to have them in the end, on our plates.

Over a year ago, our children were involved in our greenhouse project, when we soon realized that we should explore gardening/horticultural therapy for the mental and physical well-being of our children and teenagers.  The children began learning many skills, and appreciate the importance of nurturing their environment and the planet.  While planting and gardening trees and plants, they learned that trees provide food and oxygen.  They help save energy, clean and detoxify the air and help combat climate change.

Together we are changing children’s lives and improving the environment.  Our planet, our future.

Go to http://www.afnevehanna.org to learn more about our children and the remarkable projects and programs we continue to establish.

Neve Hanna Children’s Home is making a difference in the world

The biggest thing in the world is to do good for someone.  The whole idea is to give – to make a difference in the lives of others.  Neve Hanna Children’s Home understands this concept.  Our children are taught the values of Tikkun Olam.  They know the magic and the power in giving to someone else.

Throughout Rosh Hashanah and Passover, the children and young adults are dedicated and passionate in their efforts.  Our children, volunteers, teachers and staff work hard, raising food products, and packing approximately 120 meals of food for families towards the holidays.

Neve Hanna Children’s Home is changing children’s lives and making the world a better place.  Go to http://www.afnevehanna.org to learn more about our remarkable children and this magical home called Neve Hanna.

The Teenage Project: Girls Striving For Success!

Michal, a therapist, accompanies the teen group to all their meetings and therapy sessions. Working with Michal and the teenagers is a young lady, Bat-El, who grew up at Neve Hanna Children’s Home and is working as a Group Leader. She and her husband met as young children at Neve Hanna and began dating as teens. The couple and their two lovely children live on the premises at Neve Hanna

Bat-El is a vital example, an excellent, beautiful role model for the girls participating in the teenage group. She is a success story.  The Teenage Group holds meetings while the girls prepare dinner. This togetherness is of utmost importance. Conversations pop up quite naturally and cover very pertinent personal issues.  The girls also meet monthly with women personnel from Hewlett Packard, either on campus or at Hewlett Packard. They instill social and professional skills. Hewlett Packard stresses that with education and desire they could accomplish success in whatever the girls choose for themselves. There should be no need to settle.

Neve Hanna Children’s Home is changing children’s lives!  www,afnevehanna.org

Neve Hanna young leadership helps families in need!

Sachi Activities, our Sayeret Chesed Yechudit, the teenager welfare club helps families in need throughout Kiryat Gat.

Teenagers of Neve Hanna participate in this group, committing to activities and setting examples of young leadership activism. The aim of the group is:

  • Instill social values in the participants, tolerance, mutual respect, giving and sharing, friendship and the power people have, if they stick together and act as a group.
  • Do good deeds for others, especially people in need.
  • For the children of Neve Hanna, themselves defined as in-need, that means: To learn what it means to be on the other side: Not receiving, but giving.

From the therapeutic point of view, participation in the Sachi group at Neve Hanna means, to help the teenagers grow in a healthy way and to strengthen their self-esteem.

The group of about 15 teenagers currently involved in Sachi meets twice a week.  Once a week in order to buy groceries for families in-need in Kiryat Gat. They take care of all the logistics and the planning, the purchase, the packing of the parcels with basic food supplies as well as the distribution. Over major holidays, like Rosh HaShana and Passover, they begin a much bigger campaign, encouraging participation of the other children, as well as the staff of Neve Hanna.  Through donations and packing for such holidays, they supply about 120 families in need.