By Jamie Kerner
For the Mitzpeh

The news that Hillel will soon receive a new Torah brings excitement to members of its community.

Just like her peers, freshman materials science and engineering major Miriam Charnoff is also excited for the arrival of the new Torah and for the Jewish learning experiences it will bring.

However, unlike her peers, Charnoff’s anticipation goes beyond that, as she has special, more personal, ties to the new Torah, being that she is the granddaughter of its honoree, Gerry Charnoff.

According to Hillel’s website, Gerry Charnoff’s strong ties and involvement within the D.C. Jewish community were first established in 1966 when he moved to Silver Spring with his late wife, Mimi. Since then, he has served as President of the Berman Hebrew Academy, a member of the first Board of Directors for the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Campaign Chair and Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, a National Vice President of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and a member of the Jewish Institute of National Security of America (JINSA).

Now, Gerry Charnoff is being honored for his service to the Jewish community with a Torah.

“I am very honored that my grandfather is being recognized for his tremendous impact on the Washington Jewish community and to be recognized in a way that will raise the Torah experience at Hillel is even more special,” Miriam Charnoff said.

A scribe in Israel wrote the Torah that Hillel and its community will welcome on November 5 with a dedication ceremony. During the ceremony, the last few lines of the Torah, which have been left unfinished, will be completed.

“We are thrilled to have a new Torah for our community,” Shuli Tropp, Hillel’s director of institutional advancement, said. “The Torah is both a religious artifact, which we use extensively during services and prayer times, and it is a symbol of the collective heritage, tradition and values which inform Maryland Hillel’s work.”

“I am so excited for Hillel to be getting a new Torah,” sophomore letters and sciences major Keren Idan said. “I am looking forward to the new Jewish learning experiences it will bring and the positive impact it will have on the Hillel community.”

This new addition will be Hillel’s sixth Torah. Given the number of services Hillel regularly holds, its current supply of five torahs is considered inadequate.

However, despite the staff’s dissatisfaction with their quantity of Torah scrolls, Hillel was not considering purchasing a new one due to the extreme costs entailed. Tropp said that the organization was absolutely delighted that, through the generosity of donors Allen and Miriam Schick, Hillel’s need to increase its Torah inventory is being fulfilled.

Hillel is asking for donations to help purchase the Torah.

“The donations towards the Torah help to support the educational work of Maryland Hillel,” Tropp said. “This includes dozens of Jewish learning classes each week. The donations will also be used offset the cost to repair a few of our other five Torahs.”


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