A year ago, nine people were murdered and many more were injured in a terrorist attack at Hebrew University. For the last year, Montreal Hillel has been involved with an initiative to raise money for a Torah scroll in honor of the victims of the attack. Michal Kedem, Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps fellow at Montreal Hillel, submitted the following.
In August 2002, Hillel Montreal launched Project MOSES (Masses of Students Expressing Support) – an ambitious initiative that has commissioned a Sefer Torah to be donated to the Hebrew University in honor of the victims of the July 2002 terrorist attack.
Like the rest of the Jewish world, Jewish students have been shocked and pained by the ongoing terrorist attacks that have targeted innocent civilians in Israel. Memorial services, vigils and rallies have been organized throughout North American campuses to deplore these attacks and pay tribute to the victims. Jewish students, many of whom have spent quality time in Israel, have walked along Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, had a slice of pizza at Sbarro's, danced at the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv and waited for the bus in Haifa. These are not obscure, far-away places.
Many of our students have also spent the year at the Hebrew University, eating and hanging out at the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria. That attack shattered many illusions. Hebrew U. has always been and continues to be an oasis of co-existence in a city that at times seems on the brink. Following the attack a group of students got together to find a tangible way of memorializing the victims. Secular and religious were killed at Hebrew U, religious and secular got together to memorialize them.
After hours of brainstorming it came out – a Sefer Torah. It is a symbol of Judaism, Jewish history, teachings and continuity. As the initial planning committee thought about it the more excited they became. The answer to Islamic fundamentalism (Islamic Jihad had claimed responsibility for the attack) would be Judaism's contribution to the world, an ethical message that values human life and the power of the human spirit. Jewish students, from different backgrounds could agree that Torah teachings were basic and fundamental, a unifying force within Judaism.
The funds for the Sefer Torah would be raised by students across North America and the siyum (completion) ceremony would be held on Mount Scopus accompanied by a delegation of Jewish students. It was also decided that all residual funds would be donated to the Mishpacha Ehad Fund, an organization that provides much needed support to the families of victims of terror.
MOSES: Masses of Students Expressing Support, must become a household word, not just a cute acronym. MOSES is a wonderful opportunity for young and old, not only to support a student project, but to send a clear message that the Jewish spirit will not be extinguished by terrorism. For a symbolic contribution of $5 per letter ($36 per verse, $180 per chapter and $1000 for a Parasha) each individual can contribute to this wonderful mitzvah.
For more information about MOSES (or to make a contribution), call Hillel Montreal at (514) 845-9171, e-mail Yossi Lanton, or visit the MOSES Web site.