During a recent Chumash party for children of the Nigri Jewish Online School, students got to see a rare 130-year-old Chumash printed in Vilna.
Tzvi is a six-year-old boy living in Texas. He is one of three siblings who attend the Nigri International Jewish Online School of the Shluchim Office.
Last week, Tzvi and his class reached an important milestone; after reaching fluency in Kriah, they had a Chumash party to celebrate the beginning of starting Chumash. Siblings, parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents came to celebrate this momentous occasion.
Culminating months of successful learning, the program was filled with the students singing, a game and the highlight: each child being presented with their Chumash that they received in the mail. As part of the program, Mrs. Mushkie Lipsker explained to the students how the Chumash we use today is all from the mouth of Hashem, given to Moshe and passed down through the generations.
During the program, one of the students’ grandmother, Mrs. Sara Rozin, from Vilna, Lithuania, Tzvi’s grandmother, went on video and shared a Mazal Tov for Tzvi. She then came on camera holding her very own copy of a Chumash printed in Vilna in 1889. She shared that in 1973 she and her family immigrated from Vilna and they weren’t allowed to take any religious books with them, so she had to leave her Chumashim and family Siddurim behind. Mrs. Rozin eventually traveled to former Soviet republics as part of her international healthcare project work, and during one of her trips in a former Soviet Republic, the Jewish community gave her this Chumash as a present.
Mrs. Rozin concluded with powerful words, “Now my great-grandson, Tzvi’ka will have an opportunity to read and learn from this very Chumash.”
“The Chumash is at least 100 years old. The pages are brittle which is why my mom showed the copy of the front cover and not the actual volume because the volume is in one of the bookcases in my parents’ house,” Tzvi’s mother, Ilanit Meckley, explained. “Only recently did my mom learn that Vilna was actually a publishing center for seforim and turns out the street where this particular Chumash was published was very close to where my mom grew up.”
We know “coincidence” doesn’t exist in Judaism – what an amazing incident of Hashgocha Protis for her to get this Chumash from a print house right near her former home, and what an amazing experience for the students to see this Chumash right after learning about how the Chumash is from Hashem and was passed down all these thousands of years! Through this experience, the students were able to authentically see how a Chumash was carried through the generations with their own eyes.
“In addition to our academic Chumash standards, we also have the general Hashkafik standards which we want to impart to the children. One of the important big ideas that we bring out in each class is how the Chumash we learn today is straight from the original Torah which Hashem told to Moshe,” said Mrs. Mushkie Lipsker, curriculum director of the Nigri Jewish Online School. “After telling these students how special they are to receive their own Chumash, with words from Hashem, they were lucky enough to have this organic experience of seeing an ancient Chumash with their own eyes! What a special treat!”
“It was so beautiful to see how excited they were to learn their very first Pasuk, holding their new Chumash, using the skills learned in class,” Morah Mushka Hecht said. “May the excitement your child felt learning that first Pasuk stay with them every time they learn Chumash! Continue having much Nachat from them!”