October 16, 2010

Photos of the Week: Sept 28, 2010

HOW I GOT THE SHOTS: The holidays of Tishrei come to a dancing conclusion this week with the Shemini Atzeret-Simchat Torah doubleheader which begins Wednesday at sundown. In Israel, the holidays occur simultaneously following the final day of Sukkot. Joyful and passionate singing and dancing with the Torah mark the conclusion of the annual reading of the entire five books of the Torah and our return to the first chapter of Genesis to start the cycle anew.

This week's photographs are taken from a celebration to dedicate a newly written Sefer Torah, held last year in Jerusalem. The ceremony began with members of the family which sponsored the writing completing the last verse of the Torah, with the aid of a scribe. Afterward, the new Torah and several others were paraded through the streets to the accompaniment of music and frenzied dancing. At the conclusion of the parade, the Torah was brought back into the synagogue where it will be used and placed for the first time in the Aron Kodesh.

The first image is a close up of the sofer as he puts the finishing touch on one of the letters of the final verse. The lower image captures much of the energy and excitement generated by the ecstatic participants. It is also a an excellent illustration of how a Torah dedication is always an event celebrated by the entire community, as this photo features both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Torahs, soldiers, and numerous individuals of varying religious custom all joining the celebration. Chag Sameach!

Upper Photo: Nikon D-300, 18-200 zoom at 112mm, f6.3 at 1/125 sec., ISO 400. Lower Photo: Nikon D-300, 18-200 zoom at 22mm, f5 at 1/160 sec., ISO 400.

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