Founded in 1967, Temple Isaiah is about to embark on its 50th year in Great Neck. To begin the yearlong celebration, internationally renowned Torah scribe (Sofer) Neil Yerman will serve as Scholar-in-Residence, conducting programs for the congregation and the community.
Sofer Yerman’s first program will take place on Sunday, Jan. 22, which he’ll kick off with a presentation called The Living Torah—Time Traveler, discussing how the physical formatting of the Torah has changed over the centuries and countries of its travels, and how each Torah’s characteristics can help to identify when and where it was written. Following the presentation, participants will have a hands-on opportunity to experience the sacred ritual of cleaning one of the temple’s Torahs in preparation for restoration work that Sofer Yerman will undertake. A subsequent program in May will offer a hands-on opportunity to restore lettering in the Torah.
In his 31-year career, Sofer Yerman has written eight original Torahs and restored hundreds of Torah scrolls. He has involved reform, conservative and reconstructionist communities in hands-on educational and development programs based on the Torah. He is certified by the Memorial Scrolls Trust in England to help preserve Holocaust Scrolls—a matter of great interest to Temple Isaiah as one of the temple’s Torahs was rescued from the Nazis in Czechoslovskia and is on loan to the congregation for safekeeping from the Memorial Scrolls Trust.
The Jubilee Year celebration will continue with other programs that showcase Temple Isaiah’s role in the community.
“We’ve always referred to ourselves as the ‘alternative Reform congregation’ in Great Neck,” said Copresident Bill Rosenberg, “but that’s a little misleading. In fact, our practices and observances are actually very traditional. If we’re in any way alternative, I think it’s in our relationships and how the community functions. Over our history we’ve had a blind cantor who brought his seeing eye dog onto the bimah, a female rabbi at a time when that was still unusual and, most recently, a Japanese-American rabbi. I don’t think many congregations can say that!”
Sofer Yerman’s first program will take place at 2 p.m. at Temple Isaiah, located at 1 Chelsea Place, off Cutter Mill Road. There is a suggested donation of $18. For more information, call 516-487-5373.