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May 08, 2014 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-05-08

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Brenda Betel pens her letter
with Rabbi Moshe Druin.

Shir Shalom extends its Project 613
to JSL residents/Holocaust survivors.

Julie Edgar
Special to the Jewish News

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May 8 • 2014


s their children, grandchil-
dren and great-grandchil-
dren proudly looked on,
Henry Upfall and Brenda Betel each
put quill to parchment to ink a Hebrew
letter in an expanse of holy real estate
— small marks that represent the
whole of the Torah.
"It's a mitzvah for me" said Upfall,
101, who has lived at Jewish Senior
Life's Meer Apartments in West
Bloomfield for nearly a year. Upfall is
Metro Detroit's oldest living Holocaust
Betel, 90, also has lived at Meer for a
year, and she, too, survived the Nazis.
JSL staffers chose them to partici-
pate in the scribing session on April
28 — Yom HaShoah (Holocaust
Remembrance Day) — because they
are survivors.
In honor of its 25th anniversary,
Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield is
offering members an opportunity to
participate in writing a sefer Torah to
fulfill the 613th mitzvah. The Torah
will become Shir Shalom's ninth.
"We wanted to give back to the com-
munity and honor survivors in our
community," said Andre Douville, Shir
Shalom's executive director.
Carol Rosenberg, JSL Foundation
director, said the morning was emo-
tional for residents and staff.
"Living among us are so many
amazing stories" she said. "Like all
of our residents, and so many com-
munity members who participate in
activities like this, our older adults are
reminders that their legacy continues
from generation to generation"
Rochelle Upfal, JSL CEO, was hon-
ored Shir Shalom brought its Torah
writing project to JSL.
"They chose to involve our older
adults, and this is a great honor not only
for them but also for Jewish Senior Life,"
she said, adding thanks to Patti Tauber,
Meer administrator, Myriam Cohen,
program coordinator, and Shir Shalom's
leadership for arranging the event.
Betel, who volunteers twice a week
at the Holocaust Memorial Center

Henry Upfall speaks Yiddish to Rabbi

and the Berry Surgery Center, both in
Farmington Hills, was born in Poland.
She and her family escaped to Siberia.
After her parents died, she was sent
to a refugee camp for children in
Cyprus. As a teenager, she immigrated
to Palestine, where she met her future
husband, Sam Betel.
Betel was proud to take part, a "yid-
dishe daughter," surrounded by her
Before they inscribed their respec-
tive letters — hers a "bet" for her
Jewish name, Bracha, and Upfall's
"aleph" (significance unknown) — the
Torah scribe, Rabbi Moshe Druin,
spoke to Meer residents about the
613th mitzvah.
The parchment, he explained, is
made from a kosher animal's skin, and
the quill comes from a kosher bird,
typically a turkey.
Druin works for a Miami company
called Sofer On Site, which provides
sofer services around the country. The
sections of parchment congregants
have penned are certified by rabbis
here and in Israel.
Upfall spoke Yiddish to Druin, tell-
ing him he learned mishnayot, sections
of Talmud that are the first codifica-
tions of Torah. Betel spoke to him in
beautiful Hebrew.
As Druin helped each position the
quill over the parchment, he reminded
them that Am Yisroel chai — the
Jewish people lives.

Julie Edgar is manager of public relations

at Your People LLC in Southfield.

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