Ashkelon Residents Dedicate New Torah Under Fire

Residents show remarkable resilience as rocket fire fails to dampen celebration.

Ari Soffer ,

Torah scroll
Torah scroll

Residents of the southern city of Ashkelon didn't let a few rockets spoil the dedication of a new Torah scroll Sunday.

The city is situated just 13 miles north of the Gaza Strip, and residents have just seconds to seek shelter after hearing the Code Red warning sirens. But amid the music and noise of the loud and typically boisterous celebration it appears that many either did not hear the sirens or simply carried on dancing regardless.

While many participants can be seen running for shelter, others stayed and witnessed the Iron Dome missile defense system shoot down incoming rockets. 

Foolhardly? Perhaps (although, as pointed out, most either couldn't hear the sirens or had no time to leave) - but the resilience of the city's residents after more than a decade of intermittent rocket fire is surely nothing less than astonishing.

Fittingly, the entire episode unfolded to the famous Jewish song celebrating the triumph of faith in God over adversity: Anahnu ma'aminim bnei ma'aminim ve'ein lanu al mi lehisha'en ela el avinu shebashamayim / We are Believers the children of believers, and we have no one to rely upon but our Father in Heaven.

In Jewish tradition the dedication of a new Torah scroll (Hachnasat Sefer Torah) is seen as a celebration akin to a wedding - hence the scroll is accompanied by the people of the community under a chuppa or wedding canopy of sorts.