As soon as a child is born there is a lot of paperwork that parents quickly fill out, like social security, insurance, and birth certificate. There is another form as well that I filled out as each of my children were born, a subscription for them to each own a letter in the children's unity Torah. Hanging proudly next to their beds are their certificates identifying them as an owner of a letter in the Torah written by a scribe especially for them.
In 1981, the Rebbe launched a campaign for Jewish unity, and urged parents to give their children the opportunity to own a letter in a Sefer Torah as the medium to accomplish this. Each Sefer Torah has 304,805 letters, and the simple yet original idea the Rebbe proposed is that each of these letters should belong to one specific child, until every Jewish child has their own letter.
On the surface there appear to be many differences among children; their socioeconomic backgrounds, their geographical distance from one another, their varying degrees of education, talents and skills, and even religious differences such as Kohen, Levi and Yisrael. Nevertheless, despite all this, the Rebbe explained that all Jewish children are truly united as one people, through the Torah that belongs to all of them equally.
When a child has their own letter in a particular section of a specific Torah, whose other letters all belong also exclusively to children, this concept of oneness and unity among them becomes more tangible and practical. The purity and sincerity of a child too, adds even more holiness and makes the "Children's Unity Torah" they own that much more unique.
When the Rebbe launched this campaign it no doubt seemed daunting. That 304,805 children would sign up for a letter in the Torah sounded impossible. Never before in Jewish history had such an effort been undertaken. The closest is perhaps Moses collecting half a shekel for each individual. Yet within a few months, it was complete. And just this week, the 8th such Torah, comprised of letters belonging exclusively by children, was completed in a massive celebration at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
To put that in perspective, by the time the 8th Torah was complete, 2,438,440 Jewish children of every background, had participated in the unity Torah’s commissioned by the Rebbe. With an estimated 16 million Jewish people around the world, and some 6 million in the appropriate age range to participate since the campaign was launched, this represents a staggering almost 50% of all Jewish people alive today within the age of the campaign, have participated in it!
These monumental numbers of historic proportions, which signify Jewish birth, growth, and youthfulness, and express in no uncertain terms Jewish education, pride and unity, take on an even more significant meaning when one thinks that within living memory so many Jewish children were murdered by the Nazis.
While 2,438,440 is a great accomplishment, there is still much work to be done. In true Chabad fashion, as the ink was drying and the completion celebration was taking place, the first letters of the 9th Sefer Torah were already being written. If your child or grandchild has not participated in any of the previous eight Children's Torah's, they can join the ninth today!
Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz Blog
Serving the spiritual needs of the South Dakota Jewish community. Based in Sioux Falls and travels the state.