New Torah Occupies Wall Street


by Jeremy Davis - Manhattan, NY

November 21, 2011

Only a stone’s throw from Zuccotti Park where protestors clashed with police last Wednesday evening, scores of Wall Street businesspeople and residents took to dancing in the rain at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on Battery Place.

The occasion was the dedication of a newly completed Torah Scroll by Chabad of Wall Street. Area residents, businesspeople and professionals turned out in the pouring rain to participate as the scribe filled the final letters in with a quill. Rabbi Shmaya Katz, director of Chabad of Wall Street, led a lively procession outside as revelers danced with the new Torah, escorted under a canopy on an elaborately decorated truck that drove slowly down Battery Place.

At an elegant, intimate dinner that followed, guests honored the memory of Mrs. Charlotte (Sarah) Rohr, matriarch of the distinguished Rohr Family, in whose memory the Torah was commissioned.

The funds for the two-and-a-half year long project were raised by the Chabad of Wall Street. “We wanted to reciprocate and show our gratitude to Mr. George Rohr for the support and dedication to Jewish causes that he, his father Mr. Sami Rohr, and the Rohr Family Foundation have demonstrated over many years,” Mrs. Rachel Katz told lubavitch.com.

The admiration was mutual, as Mr. Rohr, visibly moved by the event, described Rachel Katz as “an irresistible force” in leading Chabad community projects.

Guests echoed these sentiments, speaking emotionally of the progress that Chabad of Wall Street has achieved in the ten years since September 11, 2001.

“Chabad is a global safe haven. And Chabad of Wall Street is a safe haven for the many troubles of Wall Street,” said Elian Abramov, a member of Chabad of Wall Street.

During the recent Occupy Wall Street protests, Chabad welcomed an influx of visitors, including Zuccotti Park protestors, police officers and Wall Street professionals. Rabbi Katz visited Zuccotti Park during the hi-holidays, blew shofar for protestors, shared the lulav and etrog, and spoke to many of the protestors who quickly gravitated to him.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch educational and social services divisions, joined in the celebration and lauded the contribution of Chabad of Wall Street and Rabbi and Mrs. Katz, to the area’s Jewish life.

Rabbi Krinsky shared his memories of a meeting some 40 years ago, between the Lubavitcher Rebbe and a small group of major philanthropists. Among them, he recalled, were Jack and Helen Nash, parents of Mrs. Pamela Rohr, who joined her husband at Wednesday’s Torah celebration. At that memorable meeting so many years ago, Rabbi Krinsky said, the Rebbe spoke emphatically about the great role these philanthropists must assume in advancing Jewish education as the key to the Jewish future.

Rabbi Krinsky pointed to Mr. Rohr as an outstanding role model to young entrepreneurs.

“Mr. Rohr is in great measure responsible for the worldwide educational and outreach activities of Chabad-Lubavitch, which he so generously supports,” he said.

The Rohr family has supported several major philanthropic projects, including an initiative to place Chabad Houses on college campuses nationwide. In the early 1990s the family launched plans to support Chabad institutions in the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe. The Rohr Family Foundation provides critical funding to open and expand Chabad centers worldwide, and has sponsored the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute adult-educational program, now in 325 chapters worldwide.

At a time when Wall Street is drawing unhappy media attention, Mrs. Baila Olidort, editor of Lubavitch News Service, offered an alternative, positive perspective. The new addition to Chabad of Wall Street, she said, celebrates the fact “3300 years after Mt. Sinai,” even here, on Wall Street, where material gain is the driving force—so far removed from the spiritual life of biblical times, “the Jewish people yet continue to live by the Torah and its values.”

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