BY MATT FRANZBLAU
Jewish Federation of Jacksonville
Students at the Torah Academy received an interactive look into our people's sacred text as the traveling educational vehicle tabbed 'America's Torah' made a stop at the school in late May. Students of all grade levels took part in activities which included inking their Hebrew names on mezuzah parchment paper to writing special messages of encouragement and inspiration on a rotating torah scroll placed on the program's official vehicle.
Scribe Peretz Goldstein also took time to give students an in depth lesson on the torah and its profound place in Jewish life. "The main reason why we are bringing this program into the schools is because the youth is the future of this generation," Goldstein explained. "They are the foundation of what we are trying to establish for a brighter future in this world." Goldstein was studying at Talmudic University in Miami when he was presented with the opportunity to take part in this unique venture, which was created following the tragic death of Rabbi Joseph Raskin, who was gunned down last August while walking to a Miami synagogue.
Goldstein and his team started their cross country trek in south Florida in March and have spent the past few months wending their way up the coasts of the Sunshine State, with Jacksonville being one of their final stops before crossing state lines. "We are not getting bogged down in the negativity," he added. "But instead we are looking forward toward the future and showing society what it means to be an American and a Jew." Goldstein's crew has hit religious and public schools throughout the state as well as fire and police stations in addition to holding sit down's with city leaders from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Myers. Their goal is to visit as many of the 50 states as they can, spreading their message of peace and understanding.
"We are trying to go back to the core of what it means to be an American," Goldstein explained. "In our constitution we have something that says 'one nation under God and there is a reason it's also on the dollar bill. This country was founded on precepts of faith, so we want to give that back to American society and show that we can all coexist." The America's Torah truck and RV made two more stops in the Florida panhandle before heading north to Alabama and the rest of the 49 states. For more information or to donate to the program's cause, visit its official website at americastorah.org.