Harlem is getting its own Torah after seven decades without a new scroll

Neighborhood used to be a Jewish mecca, but population declined after the Depression. Chabad of Harlem will usher in new tubular tract on Sunday.

It’s Torah time at the Apollo.

Crown Heights Torah scribe Rabbi Yehuda Clapman is busy proofreading Harlem’s new biblical scroll. Clapman spent the last year writing out the five books of Moses, in Hebrew, by hand.

Crown Heights Torah scribe Rabbi Yehuda Clapman is busy proofreading Harlem’s new biblical scroll. Clapman spent the last year writing out the five books of Moses, in Hebrew, by hand.

The Jewish community of Harlem will welcome its newest member this weekend —  the first sacred, handwritten Hebrew scriptures to grace a synagogue in the  neighborhood in nearly a century.

“The Harlem Jewish community is growing,” said Rabbi Yossel Gansbourg, head  of Chabad of Harlem on Manhattan Ave., who will unveil the 128-foot calfskin  parchment Sunday and parade it through the neighborhood.

“With time, the Jewish community will develop very nicely. We always want  more people to become part of it.”

Crown Heights Torah scribe Yehuda Clapman searches for mistakes in the Harlem scroll.

Crown Heights Torah scribe Yehuda Clapman searches for mistakes in the Harlem scroll.

Harlem was a Jewish mecca before the Great Depression — home to about  175,000 Members of the Tribe, said Jeffrey Gurock, a history professor at  Yeshiva University and author of “When Harlem Was Jewish.”

“There were about 200 synagogues. They were big and small,” Gurock said.  “Having a Torah is a sign for permanence for a community. This is the first  synagogue to return to central Harlem.”

 Gansbourg’s father Shaya left Crown Heights a decade ago to open a one-room  shul in Harlem, which attracted just a handful of the faithful.

As it grew, Gansbourg hired Brooklyn Rabbi Yehuda Clapman to write out each  of the 304,805 Hebrew letters that make up the tubular tract.

It took him two years — working with a simple goose feather quill and a pot  of black ink — to get the job done.

“Each letter, as you write it, is like the birth of something new. You never  get bored,” said Clapman.

Chapman used a goose feathered pen to write out the hundreds of thousands of Hebrew letters. He also pulled out a razor to scratch out any errors.

Chapman used a goose feathered pen to write out the hundreds of thousands of Hebrew letters. He also pulled out a razor to scratch out any errors.

Shaya Gansbourg didn’t live to see the completion of the $40,000 sacred work,  dying in February of a heart attack at age 57.

But his work lives on; now, 130 families come to the synagogue.

“He wanted to make a difference,” his son said.

Gansbourg expects his Torah parade — an event the faithful call Hachnasat  Sefer Torah — will draw a mixed crowd in the increasingly diverse Harlem.

After all, the arrival of the Torah is not the first renaissance for the  language of Judaism in the neighborhood. Last month, the bilingual Harlem Hebrew  Language Academy opened with 137 kids.

Torah celebration, Chabad of Harlem, 437 Manhattan Ave. near W. 118th St.,  Oct. 27, 9:30 a.m.

simonew@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/harlem-torah-torah-torah-article-1.1495632#ixzz2igyMeFr8

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