Sarah’s Violin on Simchat Torah
Rabbi Edward S. Boraz is an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, (Class I) and is the Rabbi for the Upper Valley Jewish Community and is the Michael Steinberg ’61 Rabbi of Dartmouth College Hillel, now in his 14th year of service. He can be reached at Edward.S.Boraz@darthmouth.EDU.
For the past two years, we had approximately 20 people attend our Simchat Torah celebrations. This year, with Meira, a new Educational Director from Tzfat, we decided to change our approach. We cancelled our Tuesday Hebrew School. Instead, Meira taught a voluntary art session to decorate the sanctuary. Fourteen students and a few parents participated. Near the end, a little girl named Sarah approached Meira. “Can I show you something on my violin?” They went in the hallway outside my office. She began to play the Debbie Friedman’s Shema. I set aside my work, took out my guitar, and joined her. I asked, “Sarah, would you play this during our Simchat Torah celebration?” “Yes.”
We promoted this in every way. We hired a DJ who played klezmer music during the Hakafot. On Thursday evening, 105 people attended, forty of whom were children. The entire Torah was unwound with adults holding sections of the parchment. Our children sat in the middle. The title was “Journeying through the Torah in Song.” The children, now surrounded by the Torah, began to walk with me to the Torah’s different sections. We sang the “Vayechulu”, a rousing rendition of V’shamru, and Mah Tovu.
Then it happened. Standing in front of the Shema, Sarah took out her violin and began to play. Everyone sang in perfect balance with Sarah’s playing, singing the sacred words over and over.
We were in t’philah, in harmony with one another and perhaps with God.