We Parade Around the Shul: A Prayer for Simchat Torah

a blue mural of people dancing with Torah scrolls

Our Torah is old.
The velvet Torah cover
And the silver plate that hangs over the velvet
Are covered in names of donors long gone,
And their honored loved ones, gone even longer.
These names mean nothing to us:
We ignore them on Shabbat
When we parade around the shul.

On Selikhot we put aside the old velvet
And dress our Torah in a fresh white cover,
Only a year old,
Donated by a beloved member
Her name embroidered on the velvet.
She died this year, four days before Rosh HaShanah.
We cried
When we walked our Torah around the shul.

We will think of our friend every year at this time of year,
From now on, whenever we see the white cover,
Until none of us are here,
Until no one alive remembers her
Or us.
Then others will carry this scroll with the white cover
Donated by a Jew they never knew,
Whose name they will ignore,
Our loved one.
Tonight it’s Simchat Torah.
So we take off her white covers
And put on the old ones,
Gold and blue, embroidered with strangers’ names.
Then we will dance around the shul.

We give thanks to the ancient One-ness,
Telling the story even when we can’t
Keeping our loved ones’ memories as blessings,
Giving us Torah from the beginning, every year.

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