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 VOL. 23, NO. 15FEBRUARY 20, 1998 


Columbia’s First Torah Scroll to Be Dedicated This Sunday


 BY KIM BROCKWAY

Columbia will dedicate its first Torah scroll in ceremonies in Low Rotunda this Sunday (Feb. 22). The scroll is a gift of the Ira and Ingeborg Rennert family. Record Photo by Eileen Barroso.

Columbia—home to one of the country’s premier extracurricular programs for Jewish students and the planned Robert K. Kraft Family Center for Jewish Student Life—will dedicate its first Torah scroll, a gift of the Ira and Ingeborg Rennert family, on Sun., Feb. 22, in a ceremony that celebrates religious tradition and expressive music and dance. The entire campus and community at-large have been invited. The ceremony will begin at 3:00 P.M. in Low Rotunda

  The new Torah will be a vital part of one of the most outstanding Jewish campus communities in the country. Its programs have won many awards from national and regional Hillel, and many students choose Columbia over other schools because of the strength of its Jewish community. The Jewish Student Union (JSU) encompasses a complete range of modern Jewish life, sponsoring diverse cultural, religious, social, educational, political, and arts programs, as well as opportunities for community service.

  The JSU is one of the most active extracurricular communities on campus, with 36 student groups serving more than 2,000 students. More than 200 programs and special events, open to people of all faiths, are offered annually. Jewish activities at Columbia are sponsored by an alumni foundation, the Jewish Campus Life Fund (JCLF), which was established in 1929 for this exclusive purpose.

  The Torah dedication ceremony has been planned by students, faculty and alumni of the Fund, under the guidance of Rabbi Charles Sheer, Jewish chaplain at Columbia and Barnard. The central focus of the ceremony will be the actual completion of the Torah scroll by a “sofer,” a scribe. The last 100 letters of the handwritten Torah will be inscribed only in outline form. The planning committee of JCLF alumni and JSU leaders has invited 75 students and 25 alumni leaders and patrons of the forthcoming Kraft Center to be honored by having a letter completed in their name.

  After the scroll has been completed, it will be carefully passed among representatives of the community’s various generations, including alumni, the Jewish Student Office staff and JSU student leaders.

  Greetings and remarks will be made by Rennert, Robert Pollack, president of the JCLF, Rabbi Sheer and Evan Hochberg, Columbia College, ‘99, president of the JSU.

  Columbia and Barnard have, for several years now, received the support of Ira and Ingeborg Rennert, whose two daughters are Barnard alumnae. Last year, the Ingeborg Rennert Professorship of Judaic Studies at Barnard was established and inaugurated with a series of four lectures by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, author and scholar. That gift also endowed the Ingeborg, Tamara and Jonina Rennert Women in Judaism Forum, with a mission to promote the public’s understanding of the complex roles of women in Judaism today and throughout history.

  The Rennert family has also been generous supporters of the JCLF for many years. Mr. Rennert is a member of its executive committee, and the family has named the Grand Hall/Sanctuary of the forthcoming Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life in memory of his father.

  The Torah Scroll dedication is the first of a series of significant events that will culminate with the opening of the Kraft Center in the Fall, 1999.






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