JANUARY 11, 2018 – On Sunday, Jan. 28 at 11 a.m., Congregation Ahabat Sholom of Lynn will dedicate a Torah scroll in memory of Rabbi Samuel Zaitchik and his wife, Rebbetzin Nell Zaitchik, who served the Lynn Jewish community for over 50 years.
The presentation of the Torah will take place at Congregation Shaarei Tefillah, 35 Morseland Ave., in Newton.
The shul is presenting the scroll to Congregation Shaarei Tefillah of Newton, where Rabbi Zaitchik spent some of his later years after the passing of Rebbetzin Zaitchik in 1997. The rabbi died in 2013.
The Hachnasat Sefer Torah dedication is celebrated by dancing with the Torah under a chuppah (marriage canopy) as the Torah scroll is brought into the synagogue and sanctuary.
The ceremony has ancient roots in the Bible. In 2 Samuel, chapter 6, verses 14-15, we read: “And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the horn.”
The ceremony is thus a very joyous moment in the life of any Jewish community, but is especially poignant in this case as Congregation Ahabat Sholom will soon be closing its doors. The legacy of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Zaitchik will live on, however, memorialized in the words beautifully stitched on the mantel of the Torah scroll, translated as “They brought people closer to God and the Torah, whose ways are ways of pleasantness and whose paths are paths of peace.”
Rabbi Samuel Zaitchik was born in Minsk, Russia, and came to Boston in 1929 with his parents, fleeing Bolshevik oppression, along with four of his sisters and brother. (His older four siblings were not allowed to emigrate, and many of them eventually perished with their families in the Holocaust.) Rebbetzin Nell (Bauer) Zaitchik was born in Waco, Texas, to Jewish immigrants from Poland.
The Zaitchiks’ romance was made possible by the United States Army, which brought Lieutenant Rabbi Zaitchik to Waco in 1944 for training as a chaplain. The Bauers’ kosher home was always open to religious Jewish servicemen stationed in nearby Fort Hood, and Nell Bauer volunteered at the USO, so it is not too surprising that Samuel Zaitchik and Nell Bauer found each other.
Rabbi Zaitchik, eventually Captain Zaitchik, ended his military service as the chief Jewish chaplain for all Allied armed forces in Japan, under General Douglas MacArthur. Upon his return to the US, he accepted a position as Rabbi at Congregation Ahabat Sholom, where he and the Rebbetzin served until 1997.
They guided the community with love and kindness; their home was always open, day and night, to anyone in need, whether material or emotional or spiritual; no lonely stranger escaped their warm friendship and offers of practical help; adhering to Jewish law and tradition, they nonetheless embraced modernity and its new perspectives; they combined patriotism and loyalty as Americans with ardent commitment to Zionism and Israel.
All who knew the Zaitchiks are invited to the Hachnasat Sefer Torah celebration. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 20.