The Torah and the train

The 6:23 from Beit Shemesh gets its Torah.

A group of commuters living in Beit Shemesh have commissioned a special small Torah scroll and a custom-made carrying case for their traveling daily prayer group.

The group conducts daily morning prayers on the train commute to work.

The train originates in Jerusalem at 5:43 each morning, and reaches Beit Shemesh at 6:23. Many riders now accompanying the Torah board at Beit Shemesh and are scheduled to arrive in Tel Aviv slightly after 7.

Donated by the Shaw family of England, the Torah will be inaugurated at a festive ceremony on Sunday, and will be used on the train beginning the following day. The festive inauguration of the Torah the Hachnasat Sefer Torah - has been arranged together with educational organization Belev Echad.

Between 20 and 40 people pray on the 6:23 train each morning, and will now read from the Torah on Monday and Thursday mornings, as is done in synagogues around the world.

The last carriage on the train is generally used as the premises for the prayer group. Being Israel, there are Israel Railways crew members who join, and sometimes a ticket inspector announces the minyan on the intercom for the benefit of new passengers who may be unaware that it is taking place.

Regular participants are native Israelis and immigrants from North America and Europe, who work in Tel Aviv in sectors such as banking, law, computers, or medicine, and choose to live in or around Jerusalem or Beit Shemesh.

Howard Jackson, a recent immigrant from Britain to Jerusalem, explains: “My job in the financial sector necessitates an early start, which makes praying with the "train minyan" an excellent option." He added, "New residents of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Darren and Dina Shaw, decided to step in and donate a scroll in honor of their grandparents and in memory of the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva students killed in the March 2008 terrorist attack.”

Darren Shaw made aliyah from London in August of 2006, and works for UBS Bank in Herzliya. He hired a Sofer (scribe) to write an unusually small Sefer Torah, which is just 30 centimeters high. Fellow rider Ariel Abraham has converted a suitcase on wheels into a portable Aron Kodesh (ark).

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on July 11, 2008

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008

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