After more than 14 years of existence, the LINK Kollel in Los Angeles finally has a newly-written sefer Torah that it can truly call its own. Under a brilliant December California sun, hundreds of kollel attendees, neighbors, and supporters joyously marched behind the chuppah-covered Torah to celebrate this milestone.
The sefer Torah campaign had its origins in the untimely passing of Mr. David (Siamek) Davoodi, z”l, the father of Mrs. Sarah Amar, LINK’s very capable administrator, and the father-in-law of Rabbi Daniel Amar, a veteran avreich at the kollel. Mr. Davoodi had fled with his family from Iran over 25 years ago to escape the religious persecution of the Iranian regime and settled in Los Angeles, where he renewed his career as a pharmacist. He embarked on a process of greatly strengthening his Torah observance and learning, even at the risk of ostracism from some of his non-observant family and associates.
Despite the anguish of a devastating and debilitating illness that would eventually claim his life, he persevered to learn about two-thirds of Shas with his son Natan until nearly his last day on this earth. His almanah, Mrs. Davoodi, together with her children Sarah, Natan, and Yaffa (Bernstein), decided to commission a new sefer Torah and donate it to the kollel in his everlasting memory.
After nearly 18 months of tireless fundraising, the beautiful sefer Torah was ready for its dedication. The final letters of Sefer Devarim were auctioned off at the home of Mrs. and Mrs. Ephraim Shraga (major supporters of LINK), and then the lively musical procession began its joyous journey of three blocks to the Kollel. It was an event that truly epitomized the inclusive spirit of the LINK beis medrash, as Ashkenazim, Sefardim, children and adults of all ages, black hats, knitted yarmulkes, and even bare heads danced alongside the chuppah as the sefer Torah was carried through the streets and into the beis medrash.
As is customary, all the “resident” sifrei Torah were taken out of the aron hakodesh to welcome the newest arrival. Spirited Simchas Torah-style dancing lasted for nearly an hour. As the sefer Torah was finally placed in its new home in the aron, Rabbi Amar and Mr. Natan Davoodi offered remarks on the incredible mesirus nefesh of Mr. David Davoodi and how the LINK beis medresh is truly a fitting place for a sefer Torah written in memory of such a heroic man.
Eli Stern is the Director of Outreach at LINK