Reading Torah: You Can Do It!

Until April, when I read Torah for the first time ever, I called the “yad” the “pointer-dealie-bob.”  I mention this right at the start, so we’re all on the same page regarding my expansive Torah-reading knowledge and skills. Trust me when I say: If I can read Torah, you can read Torah. And, judging from the responses I received after my moment on the bima April 20th, I know reading Torah is a dream many of us share.
Make your dream a reality. Thanks to the wonderful Beth Torah community, it’s far easier than you might think – just follow these simple steps.
Talk with Rabbi Levin to choose a date and a Torah portion. I chose to read my birthday weekend, but that’s not necessary. You will need to read at least three verses.
You will receive a copy of your portion with punctuation and vowels and a copy without the grammar aids – the way it is written in the Torah scroll. Don’t worry. Focus on the “regular” Hebrew.
Not all that proficient in reading Hebrew? Welcome to my club. Ask the Beth Torah staff to record the portion on a CD, so you can listen to it on your computer or in your car. I made an extra paper copy of my portion and created my own transliteration based on the recording. When you have a goal, you do what you need to do.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Say it loud and say it proud. (I did this when no one else was around, because I do have some pride.) Then rehearse with the rabbi. Rehearse with the Torah scroll. Hold that yad like a pro and follow right along as you say the words “written in fire” and read by generations of our forefathers and fore mothers.
Then, get ready. Because when you stand in front of our amazing congregation and read – really read – Torah for the first time, you will be prepared for the reading. You will not be prepared for the rush of emotions. The pride. The joy. The honor. The love.
You’ve always wanted to read Torah? As my grandmother of blessed memory would say, “So? What are you waiting for?”  Read Torah!
– Jan Sokoloff Harness