Ancient Torah from Syria Rededicated at Hachnasat Sefer Torah at Magen David Synagogue 

Magen David Synagogue “All Star Team” of Rabbis – l to r – Rabbi Ezra Cohen-Saban, Rabbi Haim Shaul, Rabbi Mordechai Sultan & Rabbi Joseph Haber
Welcoming the new Sefer Torah to Magen David Synagogue
250-300 year old Torah scroll from Syria
Rabbi Haim Shaul, Rabbi Ezra Cohen-Saban, President David Catton & Alan Mahana bring the Torah to Magen David Synagogue
President David Catton addressing the crowd
The Esses family with the Sefer Torah
Eddie Esses with his son Lew and the Torah

On Sunday, September 18th,  hundreds of exuberant members of Brooklyn’s Syrian Jewish community gathered for a very special Hachnasat Sefer Torah at Magen David Synagogue on McDonald Avenue near Avenue S.  

Heaping well deserved praises on Magen David’s indefatigable president, Mr. David Catton, Rabbi Haim Shaul thanked him for his exceptional dedication and generosity as well as the outstanding work of his phenomenal committee. They include Mr. Harold Sutton, Mr. Lawrence Dayan, Mr. Eli Kassin, Mr. Jeffrey Gindi,  Mr. Leon Freue and Mr. Nissim Zleta. Rabbi Shaul said, “These men have made our synagogue grow and flourish. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.”

The crown of the Sefer Torah was sponsored by Mr. Eddie Esses and his wife Sarah in honor of their children.  Rabbi Shaul said of Mr. Eddie Esses, “We are sitting here in this magnificent building, in our wonderful synagogue, in our community school, in the very heart of our neighborhood due to the vision and foresight of one man, Mr. Eddie Esses.” 

Besides Mr. Eddie Esses, the Sefer Torah was sponsored by 17 other families who are the founders of the synagogue and without whom the synagogue would not be flourishing today.  In addition, sponsorships of various sizes were donated by members of the congregation, young and old, making this a true congregation-wide project.

In this theme, Rabbi Shaul said that the dedicated Sefer Torah represents the importance of unity and of the value of every single individual in the congregation.  “If one letter in the Sefer Torah is missing, it is incomplete, just as if there is one person missing from our community then we are incomplete.  This Torah dedication is the work of instilling generational unity and Hashem’s blessings.”

The inscription reads: “This Sefer Torah was rescued from the remnant of the Jewish nation that dwelled in Syria from the ancient time of King David and has been renovated and rededicated by the Magen David Synagogue community as a testimony to the eternal bond between G-d, His Torah and the Jewish nation.”

He added that the mishkan in the midbar was built through the voluntary and enthusiastic participation of the entire Jewish community and that ensured that G-d’s presence never departed from the mishkan, nor was the mishkan ever destroyed.  May Hashem bless our congregation and community with the same.

Mr. David Catton said, “Today is a special day for Magen David Synagogue and for our Community as a whole.  Today is a day when we are honoring these 2 keys to our survival… the Torah and our masoret.  The special scroll of this Sefer Torah is estimated to be approximately 250-300 years old; rescued from Damascus, Syria by Mr. Yousef Jajati a’h at great personal risk.  We thank him and his dear family for their support of the knis.”

He added that, “Magen David Synagogue is the perfect place to house it.  After all, our Congregation represents traditional Syrian halakha and hashkafa or philosophy.  We are a congregation of welcoming, inclusion, tolerance, accepting all in our Community with warmth and open arms.”  

Mr. Catton declared that “this Torah represents the transmission of 3,000 years of Syrian tradition from Syria to our kahal in Brooklyn.  We accept it and dedicate this glorious Sefer Torah with honor, humility and a commitment to everything that it represents.”

Rabbi Joseph Haber spoke the vision of the founders of the synagogue 11 years ago and the incredible vision of the people who worked on the synagogue since that time. He also addressed the implementation of all of the goals to make the synagogue as successful as it is.

Rabbi Ezra Saban addressed the synagogue’s deep commitment to the youth of our community in its youth minyan. He extolled the fact that “our youth represents our future as a community and a people,” Recalling his own youth with special affection, Rabbi Saban said he’ll “never forget the first time I was lifted by our dad to kiss the Torah or put on the rimonim.” He added that learning Torah provides quality father-son time that is priceless and should be incorporated in our weekly schedules. Overcoming fear and building confidence, Rabbi Saban said, is achievable by each child by reading the Torah, taking part in hazanut and assisting in leadership roles. He concluded his address by profusely thanking Rabbi Mordechai Sultan, Rabbi Max Dushey and Rabbi Ezra Azar for their constant help and dedication.

By: Fern Sidman

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