With a few strokes of ink onto parchment, members of the Bellmore Jewish Center Sunday brought Judaism's most sacred text to life.
The congregation celebrated the completion of its new Sefer Torah, a scroll of parchment that contains the five books of the Jewish Bible.
Members of the synagogue grasped the quill as Gedaliah Druin, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based rabbi who specializes in writing sacred texts, applied the ink to each remaining letter.
Andrei Forman, 11, proclaimed the event both "awesome" and "scary."
"I didn't want to mess it up," Andrei said.
The scroll, which was written by hand in Israel by an expert, was expensive to commission - $36,000, said Joseph Weisbord, chairman of the Torah committee for the synagogue. But, he said, the expense was worth it - especially as the South Shore Jewish population is moving away and synagogues are shrinking or merging.
"We needed something for the next generation to relate to," Weisbord said. "You never know what turns a kid [toward synagogue] later on in life. I'm hoping it was whether they filled in the Torah."
The group took the nearly complete Torah to a nearby firehouse, where about 250 people accompanied it back to the synagogue Sunday afternoon for the final words to be completed to make the scroll kosher and ready for use.
Several politicians, including Sen. Charles Fuschillo and Legis. David Denenberg, were on hand to address the crowd and Denenberg helped to write one of the letters in the scroll.
"We have seven Torahs inside the ark, but this Torah is our future," said Rabbi Avraham Rabinowich of the Bellmore Jewish Center.
For many of those who participated, the experience went beyond simply putting ink to parchment.
Caryn Bergman-Bigman, 65, of Melville, a child of Holocaust survivors, sobbed as she sat before the Torah scroll, never envisioning she would reach this day.
Jay Breakstone, 59, of Bellmore, filled in the letter "mem" along with his wife and daughter.
"I think it's an affirmation of faith," said Breakstone, who also is the president of the Bellmore school board. "It's a declaration that says on any number of levels: 'We're still alive and we're still here."