On Sunday, January 22, Congregation Har HaShem concluded its year-long “Letter By Letter” campaign by dedicating a new Torah scroll that included Hebrew letters handwritten by hundreds of congregants. Since April, more than 300 congregants have handwritten individual letters on the parchment of this new Torah, which was completed by a sofer (torah scribe) and written to honor the 50th anniversary of Congregation Har HaShem’s founding.
The celebration featured dozens of participants ranging from young children to elders of the congregation in a program filled with music and song, reflection and ruach (spirit). “As we wrote the final letter in this Torah, we celebrated not only this new scroll but also the vibrant community receiving it and acknowledged the importance of passing our Torah from generation to generation,” said Barbara Gould, campaign co-chair. In Hebrew, the word Torah means “teaching”, and the scroll contains the Five Books of Moses and is read over the course of an entire year, with a different portion read aloud each week during Shabbat (Sabbath) services.
“Our “Letter by Letter” campaign very successfully engaged the entire Har HaShem community,” said Prudence Carter, campaign co-chair. “The project strengthened us and inspired us, and at the same time raised important funds that will further the mission of Congregation Har HaShem, Boulder’s oldest continually operating synagogue.”
The new Torah is named in honor of Art Bronstein, a founder of Congregation Har HaShem, who was also a teacher of Torah, a board leader and an active, bright intellectual light in the congregation for 50 years until his 2015 death at age 94. “Art and the other founders of Har HaShem had a vision that the congregation would become a place to learn and grow continually, to work together to repair our broken world, to educate the next generation of Jews, and to inspire a Jewish community live meaningful lives,” said Rabbi Fred Greene, Congregation Har HaShem’s rabbi. “This campaign and this new Torah celebrate the realization of that dream.”
As part of the “Letter by Letter” campaign, the congregation also created traditional accessories to adorn the new Torah — including rollers to hold the scroll, fabric wimples (bindings), and the yad (a pointer for reading) — as well as new covers for each of the congregation’s three Torahs and a new curtain for the ark that houses Congregation Har HaShem’s Torahs when they’re not being read.
Congregation Har HaShem is a Reform synagogue that welcomes congregants from all backgrounds including interfaith, LGBTQ, seniors, singles, and families. Since its founding in 1965, Har HaShem has grown to be a major institution in Boulder, supporting local initiatives and serving as a gateway to deeper religious and civic engagement in the community and beyond. For more information about Congregation Har HaShem or the “Letter by Letter” campaign, please call 303-499-7077.