Our Family's Torah

It is hard to believe that Uri and I are the same age now as my Dad, Lou, was when my Mom, Lotte, decided to surprise him with the writing of a Sefer Torah for his 65th birthday in the spring of 1990.

To keep it a secret, my Mom asked Uri to lay out the money for her and to pay the sofer directly in Israel, during which time she saved up to pay him back.

It was my Dad’s choice to give the Torah to SAR Academy where it would be housed for the majority of the year. It traveled at the end of each school year to the Riverdale Jewish Center (RJC) to be used for the chagim and then was brought back to SAR.

My parents decided to make a Hachnasat Sefer Torah, Torah dedication ceremony, for all the students at SAR to take part in along with the writing of the last letters. A chuppah was used as the singing and dancing took place to escort the Torah to its home at SAR!

I remember that day well. It was a beautiful sunny day and it felt like the entire school was celebrating that moment; I can’t remember any other moment like that at SAR where the entire ‘alef’ area and front entrance were so swarmed with students and faculty. I remember the sofer, and I am pretty sure he let some family members, including me, scribe a tiny portion of one of the final letters. I felt tremendous pride and a close connection to the Torah any time I would receive an Aliyah or simply see it when the Aron was opened. The Torah was unique in its smaller size and made me feel like Hercules any time I would perform Hagbah.
— Josh Kaufthal AC '97

The day came and the weather was perfect. The sky was a beautiful shade of blue, not a cloud to be seen. My Dad said it reminded him of a Jerusalem sky. We had the sofer, scribe, and my Dad sitting outside near the Alef. People mingled as they took their turn to write a letter.

Our sons, Jonathan AC ‘90, Jeremy AC ‘93, and Josh AC ‘97, were all students at SAR and it was so special to have them participate in this momentous occasion with their classmates.

Family and close friends also were invited. It was such a zechut for my Oma Flora, my Father’s Mother, to be there.

I will never forget that day and how memorable it was for all of us.

This past year, I had the personal opportunity to see “our Torah” first-hand during Shacharit at SAR as I came daily to say kaddish for my beloved Mother, Lotte z”l. It was always a thrill to see it carried by a 7th or 8th Grader (especially a girl!) and this brought back beautiful memories of an extraordinary event for our family.

The Torah dedication ceremony at SAR was a day I will always remember. Seeing an unfinished Torah scroll was an unexpected sight for me and then being told that I could help the sofer finish one of the “yud’s” for Yirmiyahu, my Hebrew name, was something I’ll always cherish. Marching under the chuppah, I could read the expressions on the faculty members and some older students faces and knew right away how meaningful and impactful this act was for the school. As an older student I often helped with hagba and gelila on that same sefer torah and every time I saw, and still see that blue cover, I can picture my grandparents holding it on the day it was “born”.
— Jeremy Kaufthal AC '93
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Lotte z”l & Ludwig Bravmann

Lotte z”l and Ludwig Bravmann have been leaders and philanthropists in the New York Jewish Community for over five decades. Their compassion and embrace of Jewish causes is widely recognized and respected. Over the years their leadership, wisdom, and talent have had a tremendous impact on many institutions--we are fortunate that SAR Academy/SAR High School continues to be one of their priorities. The Bravmanns are among the original group of founders of SAR, providing their vision and support through the last five decades. Mr. Bravmann has been a longstanding member of the SAR Board of Trustees, is the current Chairman of the Board, and a member of its Executive Committee. His children, Judy and Uri Kaufthal, and Carol and Charles Berlin, are active leaders in the New York Jewish community.