Children at Durham's Lerner School learned about the ancient workings of Jewish Scribal Art last Monday when Rabbi Moshe Druin from Sefer on Site in Miami checked the Torah used by Chabad of Durham/Chapel Hill to make sure it is "kosher."
The Torah that was inspected is special, said Rabbi Zalman Bluming. It was given to the Chabad congregation by a woman who was a Holocaust survivor.
The parchment scrolls that are used for Sefer Torah must be inscribed with fastidious care and total accuracy by a learned and qualified person known as a "sefer" or scribe.
"It is an important mitzvah to use only correctly written scrolls and to have them checked periodically for wear and tear," Rabbi Bluming said.
The Torah is known as the Five Books of Moses, a name drawn from the tradition that God gave Moses the Torah on Mount Sinai. It is a cornerstone of Jewish living and learning.
During the event, the scribe checked the Sefer Torah as preschool children and those in the elementary school watched and learned.
There are 304,805 letters in a scroll. Tradition calls for the sefer to use a quill pen made of turkey feathers, parchment that comes from a kosher animal, calf hides, in this case, and a special black ink mixed according to a centuries-old formula.
The visiting rabbi led a workshop with students and conducted his Torah inspection from 12:30 to 3 p.m.
The school is at 1935 W. Cornwallis Road, near Judea Reform Synagogue.Jewish Federation announces Mitzvah Day
The Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation has announced the 6th Annual Mitzvah Day to be held on Christmas Day.
This has become a treasured tradition in the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish community, in which hundreds of volunteers join together on Christmas Day to help their neighbors in need. Projects range from feeding the hungry to visiting the elderly to cleaning up parks or making blankets to warm the homeless.
Those who can't take an active part in these service projects are invited to become a Mitzvah Maker by donating to the Online Tzedakah Box. A donation of $18 per family can help pay for fleece for blankets that are delivered to the homeless, flower pots and craft supplies for nursing home projects, food for local shelters and the community breakfast and "Got Mitzvah?" T-shirts for all volunteers.
"Mitzvah" is the Hebrew word for "commandment" and doing mitzvah is something Jewish folks keep on their front burners.
Gracie Robinson, who works in donor services in the Jewish Federation office, said that doing mitzvah is following the commandments. And there are many.
"Colloquially, the word is used to mean doing a good deed," she said. "In Judaism, we are judged for the deeds we do, not only going to worship and praying, but doing those things we are commanded to do to help heal the world."Synagogue to hold Hanukkah Party
The Chapel Hill Kehillah Synagogue will hold its annual Hanukkah Party on Sunday, Dec. 18, from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. at 1200 Mason Farm Road.
The party will begin with a student musical show and continue with a community luncheon with traditional foods including, latkes, the fried potato pancakes traditionally eaten on Hanukkah. Participants will enjoy learning about candle lighting with Rabbi Jen Feldman, singing traditional Hanukkah songs, and buying Hanukkah items and other Jewish gifts.
Children can participate in face painting, a myriad of Hanukkah crafts and games, jumping rope with Skipsations and a photo booth.
Adults can attend a special reception with music that includes adult beverages and appetizers and works by local artists. Bagels on the Hill and Skipsations are local sponsors of this event.Moravian Love Feast set for Sunday
University United Methodist, 150 E. Franklin St., will hold its 38th annual Moravian Love Feast on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m.
The Chancel Choir and Covenant Handbells will lead the music for this celebration featuring traditional Christmas carols and Moravian hymns, beeswax candles and sweet Moravian coffee and buns.
University UMC held its first love feast in 1973, with about 75 people attending. It has grown to one of the largest services of the year, attended by more than 700 people each year.
While UUMC's first love feast was held in the 1970s, the tradition in North Carolina dates back to the 18th century when in 1753, the first love feast in the state was held in Winston-Salem on the evening the first Moravian colonists arrived. It was introduced to the Methodists 30 years later after John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, took part in a Moravian Love Feast.Workshop addresses death issues
A workshop on "Facing Death, Discovering Life" will be offered on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m. at the Kosala Buddhist Center, 711 Rosemary St. in Carrboro.
Gen Kelsang Tilopa, resident teacher at the center, will lead the workshop.
For many people, death is often a source of fear and uncertainty and is a topic some avoid thinking about. In this course, Gen Tilopa will teach how by contemplating death and keeping it in mind, life becomes happier, precious and meaningful. She will explain how by using this wisdom, relationships can improve and people will be able to die with a happy mind.
The cost for the daylong workshop is $30 and $20 for students and seniors. No registration is necessary. Interested folks should simply show up.Church to hold informal hymn sing
Members and friends of United Church of Chapel Hill are invited to find instruments and come to accompany an informal hymn sing at 10 a.m., between the two worship services on Sunday, Dec. 18.
The regular Sunday services are held at 8:45 and 11 a.m. The Rev. Susan Steinberg will preach on this Sunday, the Chancel Choir will sing and the Bronze Voices will ring for both services.
There is American Sign Language interpretation at the 11 a.m. service.Christmas Love Feast scheduled
Lystra Baptist, 686 Lystra Road, just off U.S. 15-501 will hold its annual Christmas Love Feast on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 3 p.m.
The service includes hot cider and cookies along with carols and candles in the Moravian tradition.
The service will feature Grace Wepner Ludtke, harpist. All are welcome.Guest minister to deliver MLK Day sermon
The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr, senior minister emeritus of Riverside Church in New York, who grew up in Raleigh and was a staff member at Chapel Hill's Binkley Baptist in the 1960s, will deliver the sermon on Martin Luther King Sunday, Jan. 15, at Watts Street Baptist Church, 800 Watts St. in Durham.
This is an annual event at Watts Street in which the congregation celebrates the life and work of Dr. King.
"We're delighted and excited to welcome Jim Forbes as our MLK preacher at Watts Street," said the Rev. Mel Williams, pastor. "Having grown up in Raleigh, Jim Forbes has deep roots in our area, He is a passionate, prophetic preacher with personal warmth and grace."
Riverside Church is an interdenominational, interracial and international church built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. on Manhattan's Upper West Side in 1927.
The 2,700 member church is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ.
Forbes was the first African-American to serve as minister of this congregation. He is an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches. The Watts Street service will be followed by a luncheon and a question-and-answer sessionin the church fellowship hall.
Lunch reservations can be made by calling the church office at 919-688-1366. All are welcome.Church presents Live Nativity
Antioch Baptist Church, 1707 White Cross Road, will present a Living Nativity from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17.
Rain date is Sunday, Dec. 18.