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House approves controversial change to ‘sanctuary cities’ bill

Synagogue invites community to help write its new Torah

The Torah is the heart of Judaism and the Jewish community. Writing a Hebrew letter on the parchment can be a unique spiritual experience. In fact, writing a letter of Torah allows a person to fulfill the 613th mitzvah, or commandment, of writing a new Torah.

Congregation Agudas Achim, a Jewish synagogue with roots in Austin for more than 100 years, is currently immersed in fulfilling the 613th mitzvah and is inviting the community to join us.

Our country has seen an increase in hate crimes geared toward our religious community including the destroying of cemeteries, symbols and words of hate written on public transportation and buildings, bomb threats called into Jewish Community Centers, and online harassment. At least 20 percent of victims of hate crimes are victimized because of bias against religion, and of that 20 percent, 52.1 percent were motivated by anti-Jewish bias, according to FBI data that does not include the last six months.

Asking our brothers and sisters in the Greater Austin community to join us in writing this Torah symbolizes the hopeful future for interfaith solidarity and peace for all future generations. It promotes the most positive of what organized religion can be.

On April 23, we’re inviting participants of all religious views to place their hands on our Torah scribe Jen Taylor Friedman’s and guided by her, write a Hebrew letter. The special ink and parchment for the traditional Torah will last hundreds of years.

Friedman is one of a handful of female soferets, Torah scribes, in the world. This will be the first full Torah in Texas to be written by a woman. Commissioning a female soferet was intentional to continue the tradition of being a congregation that actively promotes egalitarianism and equality.

Following Torah writing, the community is invited to attend and participate in Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day. At the Yom HaShoah service, invited members of the non-Jewish clergy will stand up to honor the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust and stand firm in saying, “never again.”

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