New Torah Installation 9/21

For Immediate Release
September 4, 2017

Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue installs new Torah Scroll at Rosh Hashanah, Sept 21, 2017, at St. Paul’s Chapel. The First Torah written by Female Scribe for a Manhattan Synagogue.

The first Torah written by a female scribe for a Manhattan Synagogue will be installed on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, Sept 21, 2017 at the 10 AM ceremony. Local politicians, religious leaders of all faiths, and Jewish communal leaders have been invited to attend this significant moment in New York history at St.Paul’s Chapel.

Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue is the resident Jewish congregation at St. Paul’s Chapel. St. Paul’s Chapel is the oldest house of worship in New York City and the venue where George Washington prayed on the day of his inauguration.

“I believe the people who wrote the US Constitution and brought that document to life, who stood for religious freedom, would be very proud to know that in a later generation, a Jewish congregation would install a new Torah, the equivalent of a Jewish Constitution, in that very same hall,” said Tamid’s Founding Rabbi, Darren Levine.

The Torah is the most sacred text of the Jewish People and contains the Five Books of Moses, held in high regard by Jews and Christians alike. There are 304,805 letters in the Torah and each one is written by hand. Julie Seltzer, a trained Torah writer (soferet), native of Philadelphia, PA and graduate of Brown University, has spent the last 2.5 years writing the scroll.

The Torah is traditionally written only by men and ancient Jewish law prescribes that only Torah scrolls written by men are kosher. “We have an expanded view of tradition and Jewish law. While we respect the ancient ways, we live in a different era and our tradition needs to evolve to stay relevant to the values we hold dear today; equality among men and women is just one of these modern values,” said Levine.

For Tamid, this was more than just creating a new Torah. “According to Jewish tradition, every Jew is commanded to write a Torah in their lifetime. But it’s more than just putting quill to paper, it’s a window into a Jewish person’s history that dates back over 2000 years.” Over 450 members, students, and friends of Tamid have written letters in this new scroll with Soferet Seltzer’s guidance.

“The truth is that we did not commission Julie to write our scroll because she is a woman. We commissioned Julie because she best reflects our vision for positive Jewish life in the 21st Century. Julie is an educator, an artist, and a community builder and was our hope for this Torah  project; to learn and to grow as people and as a community through her leadership and unique way that she communicates the art of writing Torah,” said Alla Liberman, a member of Tamid’s Leadership Council.

On September 21, 2017 at 10:30 AM, Tamid children who wrote letters in the Torah will accompany the new scroll into St. Paul’s Chapel and it will be read publicly for the first time.

For more information on this Torah project and the installation ceremony, visit

Contact: Christina Broussard, 646 360 0689,