The Jewish community in Iceland joyfully held a hachnasas Sefer Torah last week in the capital city of Reykjavík for the Nordic country’s first permanent Torah, a JTA report said.
For a country in which shechita has been illegal for decades and has made headlines in the Jewish press for its proposal to criminalize circumcision in recent years, a Sefer Torah is really something to rejoice about.
The final letters of the Sefer Torah, which was donated to the Jewish community by Uri Krauss of Zurich, Switzerland, were written in the home of the Jewish U.S. ambassador to Iceland, Jeffrey Ross Gunter.
Mazel tov to Iceland's Jewish community & @ChabadIceland celebrating the arrival of Iceland's first-ever Sefer Torah! A historic evening witnessing some final inscriptions to this sacred Jewish text. Congratulations to Rabbi Feldman! Jewish life is alive & well in Iceland! 🇺🇸 🇮🇸 pic.twitter.com/xz2XvxZfwV
— Ambassador Gunter (@USAmbIceland) February 13, 2020
The Torah was then brought, with much joyous singing and dancing, to the Reykjavík Chabad center, the first Jewish institution and shul in Icelandic history.
Rabbi Avi and Mushky Feldman have been serving as the Chabad shlichim in the island country since February 2018 and opened the Chabad center and shul. When Rabbi Feldman began serving as the shul’s Rav, he shattered Reykjavík’s status of being the last major European capital without a rabbi.
Although Iceland’s Jewish community is tiny, about 250 if you count university students and staff, there is a booming tourist industry and in fact, Iceland is one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in the world. There are three direct flights a week to Iceland from Israel.
Mushky was born and raised in Sweden so her familiarity with Scandinavian culture is a great asset to her work in the community. However, Mushky said that although she speaks Swedish and Icelandic is said to be Old Swedish, she cannot understand Icelandic. Icelandic is known as one of the hardest languages in the world to learn, partially due to its archaic grammar.