By Anash.org Staff
Photos by Kim Atkinson
Chabad at Western University in London, Ontario, under the direction of shluchim Rabbi & Mrs. Mordechai Silberberg, celebrated a siyum and hachnosas sefer torah on Sunday. Hundreds showed up despite the still frigid weather.
The Sefer Torah was written L’iluy Nishamos the late shliach Professor Yitzchok Block and his wife Mrs. Laya Block, A”H, and was started on the Shloshim of his passing, in Cheshvan of 5778/2017.
Dr. & Mrs. Block were trailblazers in the field of Shlichus on a college campus. They first came to Western in 5721/1961, and immediately began doing everything they can to bring Jewish students closer to Yiddishkeit.
Hosting tens of students every week for Shabbos meals, as well as other occasions. Dr. Block was a frequent guest speaker at the “pegishas” with students, both in New York and all over the world. They also started the local Hebrew Day School, as well as helped found the only Orthodox shul in town. Mrs. Block also ran a pre-school for over 40 years, educating hundreds of children over that time.
The sefer torah campaign was organized by Rabbi Silberberg and by the Block children, themselves shluchim in the US and Canada. Rabbi Chaim Block (S. Antonio TX), Rabbi Levi Block (Westfield, NJ), Rabbi Mendy Block (Plano, TX), Mrs. Chani Zalmanov (Queens, NY), Rabbi Shmuli Block (Crown Heights), Mrs. Rivkie Baron (Crown Heights), Mr. Avraham Block, and Mrs. Basie Gurkow (London, ONT. Canada). With friends, neighbors, as well as the many hundreds of alumni who benefited from the Block hospitality and graciousness also contributing.
The siyum ceremony was scheduled towards the end of winter and the school semester so that the weather would not be that much a factor, yet the students would still be in school. Despite the planning the weather was harsh, but not enough to dampen the spirits of those present.
“We wanted that the final letters of the sefer torah be written on the campus of the university proper because the torah will be for the use and benefit of the students, said Rabbi Silberberg.”
Sofer Rabbi Shmuel Yosef Zirkind traveled up from Toronto to finish the final letters. Rabbi Lazer Gurkow, Rabbi of Congregation Beth Tefillah in London, and son-in-law of the Blocks, was honored with the writing of the final letter. Rabbi Chaim Block, shliach to S. Antonio, Texas was honored with hagbah.
The torah was then marched with much music and fanfare through downtown London, to the Chabad House, where the other sifrei torah were taken out to greet their new counterpart. Hakafos and a festive buffet meal followed.
Special thanks to all those who helped arrange the event, and to the Block children for traveling from far. As well, to the students of Western who helped organize this beautiful affair.