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September 5, 2002

In a festive procession, Shaare Zedek today ushered two new Sifrei Torah into the hospital’s eighth-floor synagogue.
One of the Torah scrols was donated by a group of American friends of the hospital, in honor of Shaare Zedek’s 100th anniversary. The other was donated by Mrs. Sima Sirkis, aunt of Shlomo Sirkis, Associate Director General of the hospital, in memory of her parents, Zvi and Yocheved Sirkis.

In a festive ceremony, several prominent rabbis and public personalities completed the writing of the Torah scrolls by inking in the final letters. Among the participants was famed expert in Jewish law, Rabbi Yehoshua Neuwirth.

Torah scrolls are handwritten by professional scribes with specialized training, and each letter must be formed in a precise manner. There are 304,805 letters in a Sefer Torah. If a single letter is missing or unreadable, or a superfluous letter is included, it renders the Torah religiously invalid.

The new scrolls will be brought into service only two days after the ceremony, when they will be used for the public Torah reading on the morning of Rosh Hashanah. Although the hospital has other Torah scrolls, these two are the first newly written ones to serve the hospital in 50 years. The others require frequent repair in order that they remain usable.

The hospital’s eighth-floor 95-seat synagogue was expanded and renovated in 2001. It is used every day of the week by patients, family members, and staff members alike, not just for formal prayer services, but for individual study and private prayers. People can be found in the synagogue at all hours of the day and night, and find it a great source of comfort and strength.

Rabbi Moshe Peleg, Rabbi of the Medical Center, inscribes the final letter of the Torah.