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Synagogue celebrates new Torah in memory of Holocaust survivors

Lubavitch Chabad Skokie Aug. 11 celebrated dedicatiJewish Torah Scroll by Holocaust survivor Marge Fettman. The event included processifrom SenecPark synagogue.

Lubavitch Chabad of Skokie Aug. 11 celebrated the dedication of a Jewish Torah Scroll by Holocaust survivor Marge Fettman. The event included a procession from Seneca Park to the synagogue. | Mike Isaacs~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 13, 2013 6:23AM

Hundreds of people gathered at a Skokie Park on a mild Sunday morning to dedicate a new Torah and celebrate life — life springing from a darkness that never can be forgotten.

Lubavitch Chabad of Skokie hosted the dedication of the Torah scroll, which was commissioned by Holocaust survivor Marge Fettman, 88, in memory of her late husband, Daniel, and their parents, who died in the Holocaust.

“As the Holocaust survivors continue to age, events like this have become increasingly rare in recent years, even in Skokie,” Rabbi Menachem Posner said. “In spite of the sadness, it [is] a joyous event with singing, dancing, as it is a celebration of life.”

There was a festive atmosphere — especially after the scroll was completed by Scribe Yochanan Nathan.

Fettman and each of her family members sat beside Nathan and touched the sacred pen he used.

“Today we’re completing the writing of a new Torah scroll,” Rabbi Yochanan Posner said. “This is a very important thing for us because the Torah is an important artifact in Judaism. It contains the text of the Torah as it was first written by Moses in the desert thousands of years ago.”

“This is a pleasure from my whole heart,” Fettman said as she watched Nathan finish the scroll. “It’s a blessing from Hashem,” a Hebrew word used by many pious Jews.

After the scroll was completed, the Torah was carried in a joyous procession from Seneca Park to the synagogue.

“The custom for generations is to dedicate a new Torah by celebrating joyfully, and by encouraging the children to kiss the Torah,” Lubavitch Chabad of Skokie said in a card given to visitors.

At Lubavitch Chabad on Dempster, the community Torah celebration continued with more euphoric dancing and singing. Men took turns parading in a circle, grasping the the new Torah tightly in their arms.

Parents raised their children above their heads, just as the Torah was raised.

Rabbi Yochanan Posner said that a new Torah scroll is always an important event, but perhaps it takes on even more weight because this one is dedicated by a Holocaust survivor in memory of her family.

“It also talks about Jewish survival despite all odds,” he said.

Life goes on, he says, “even though generations ago we were nearly extinguished.”

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