Friday, April 4, 2014

Jewish Community Dedicates Torah for our Troops

Federation Board Chair Theresa Dupuis with
sofer, Rabbi Goldstien, adding the final letters to the Torah scroll

This Tuesday marked a monumental day for our San Diego Jewish community. At the JCCA Biennial, a dedication ceremony, called a siyum, was held to finalize a Torah to be given to our Jewish service members. At the ceremony, the final letters of the Torah were inscribed by sofer, Rabbi Goldstien, with honors from Jewish chaplains, as well as leaders from organizations that supported the fundraising including Federation, Beth Israel, the JCC, Beth El and Tifereth Israel. 

There are more than 10,000 Jewish men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces. While the Jewish Chaplains Council has for nearly a hundred years provided essential services for Jewish personnel, they are often lacking the most important ritual symbol - a Torah scroll.

Although there are over 60 Torahs on loan to major military bases around the world, these are too large for chaplains to carry into the field or to forward to bases in the challenging environments of Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a clear need for kosher Torahs small and lightweight enough to be easily transported from ship to ship and around the field of combat for use in services wherever they might be needed.

In 2011, Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs worked with Federation and our partners to in Torahs for our Troops, a project of the Jewish Welfare Board, Jewish Chaplains Council, and the Jewish Community Association of North America, who were working to fulfill the need for Torahs in the field. The San Diego Military Services Torahs are small, lightweight and are completely funded by the Jewish community of San Diego. This is the fourth out of five Torahs to be given via the Torah for our Troops program. 

A ceremony was held that night to present the Torah to the US Military Chaplains, as covered by San Diego Jewish World, below.

Gary Jacobs in prayer shawl presents new Torah to Rabbi/ Chaplain Harold Robinson. Holding pole at right is Michael Sonduck, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego (Photo: A. Victor Goodpasture)

From San Diego Jewish World: 

Aboard the retired Air Craft Carrier USS Midway, a new Torah was presented Tuesday evening, April 1, by the Jewish community of San Diego to the JWB, previously called the Jewish Welfare Board, for use by Jewish chaplains.

Carried under a chuppah by San Diego philanthropist Gary Jacobs, the Torah a few hours before had its final letters inked in by members of the Jewish chaplain corps who were attending the biennial convention of the Jewish Community Centers Association at the nearby Hilton Bayside Hotel. Rabbi Harold Robinson, in Navy uniform, accepted the Torah in behalf of chaplains of the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. Representatives of those services then escorted the Torah from the ceremony, and assembled guests then had dinner together in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier, which today serves as a museum ship.

David Wax at lectern, with Rabbi Michael Berk beside him, speaks as Gary Jacobs holds Torah and Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal holds front left pole of Chuppah (Photo: A. Victor Goodpasture)


  1. Do you know of a Rabi in the area of Bakersfield or Tehachapi, CA that would like to volunteer at the State prison here in Tehachapi? pls reply to . thank you!! There is a great need for a volunteer Rabi in here.