TUJ Torah scroll history
Michal Lapat and his wife Linda, along with his business partner Mark Epstein, donated the Torah, the Ark and the beautiful silver accessories in honor of our then Rabbi Chuck Lipman, Michael’s dear cousin.
Tim Schwab, their carpenter in Chicago, came to NYC at their expense to build the Ark here. Scribe Neil Yerman assisted Rabbi Chuck in finding a 150-year-old orphan scroll, probably from Poland, on the Lower East Side He then proceeded to repair it.
The scroll was dedicated Sept. 22, 2000. Rabbi Lipman’s joy in this ark and scroll was short lived as he died shortly thereafter. A number of accouterments were donated by various members of the Congregation in his memory.
The breastplate and crowns are Austrian silver with gold highlights. The pointer, the Sabbath mantle and High Holy Days white mantle were also funded by Lapat and Epstein. whose names are embroidered on the mantles and engraved on the breastplate and the pointer.
The Torah needed further repair and Neil Yerman was able to do a Level 1 restoration in 2006. Being apprised of this necessity, the Lapats graciously contributed the cost.
For their original donation, the Lapats and their partner were made honorary members of the Congregation.
In 2007, Bill Weber added knobs to the doors of the ark so they could be opened more easily.
A fund has been established for a higher level of repair in the future. Donations are appreciated and will be acknowledged.
The parochet (torah ark curtain) that hangs in the ark was commissioned and donated in 2008 by Eve Roshevsky in memory of her father, Philip.
Its theme is the Hannah Senesh poem “yesh kochavim” (there are stars), in which the poet wrote of the memories of those who, like the stars in the skies, “keep shining, ever brightly though their time with us is done.”
The exquisite stylized stars, and that line from the poem, were embroidered by Toronto artist Temma Gentiles.
The beautiful banner that greets us at each service in the sanctuary was designed and donated to the congregation by renowned California artist Sharon Kagan in honor of Cantorial Soloist Lesley Karsten DiNicola.
The central image is the tree of life illumined by light. The seven branched menorah reflects the destruction of the first Temple and the yearning for redemption. The pomegranate, a fruit frequently mentioned in the Bible, suggests the fertility of the Promised Land. “Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.” Song of Solomon 4:3. It is believed that every pomegranate contains 613 seeds, the number of mitzvot, and is therefore a reminder to all who see it to abide by God’s commandments.