Even gray skies and the threat of rain couldn’t dampen the spirit of the hundreds of men, women, and children who gathered to welcome a new Torah scroll to Yeshivas Ohr Eliyahu – Lubavitch Mesivta of Chicago on Sunday afternoon.
The final letters of the new scroll were completed in the home of Mr. Bezalel and Mrs. Leah Fouhal, whose parents, Mr. Aryeh and Mrs. Ruth Oliwkowicz, donated the Torah in memory of Fiega Rivkah bas Avraham and Yeshayahu Zeev ben Yehuda Aryeh.
In classic “Chicago style,” the joyous parade was led by a vintage fire truck, retrofitted with speakers, bubble blowers and a giant velvet and gold crown.
In addition to community members and well-wishers, the pulsating parade was led by the students of the Mesivta, who danced and sang with simchah.
Upon arriving at the Mesivta, the crowd chanted the Simchas Torah pesukim of Ato horaisa and then conducted a full set of hakofos, as per Chabad custom.
As the dancing continued, the children enjoyed concession booths staffed by the bochurim as well as bounce-houses. Colorful pennants overhead lent a festival atmosphere to the community celebration.
Invited guests then proceeded to a lavish seudah, in the elegantly appointed ballroom of Congregation Khal Chassidim. The proceedings were emceed by Rabbi Ari Goodman, Mesivta alumnus and Chabad shliach in downtown Chicago, who shared his personal memories and inspiration from his days at Mesivta.
Following recital of Tehillim, Rosh Mesivta, Rabbi Eliyahu Nosson Silberberg, shared insights into the significance of the completion of a new Torah. Dean, Rabbi Moshe B. Perlstein, addressed the inner meaning of puzzling elements of the weekly Torah portion and how they relate to the challenges and eventual success of the couple to whom the Torah was dedicated. Rabbi Perlstein expressed his deep appreciation for the talented Mesivta staff and their dedicated wives.
Speaking in Yiddish, Mr. Aryeh Oliwkowicz, who lives in Venezuala, expressed his satisfaction at finally having the opportunity to commission a Torah scroll in memory of his parents and blessed the assembled with health and long life.
The event culminated with a musical presentation by Mesivta students, who skillfully plied violins, wind instruments and a keyboard into a pleasing bouquet of Chassidic song.
After the last ride has been deconstructed and the lavish meal cleared away, the lasting impression will remain . . . in the memories of the participants and in the Mesivta aron kodesh, which has now been enriched with an additional denizen.