Bangel family celebrates with a new Torah

by | Aug 9, 2019 | Uncategorized

Front: Carolyn and Herb Bangel with Rabbi Menachem Bialo. Back: Nancy Bangel and Brad Bangel.

When most people think about celebrating a big occasion, they think parties and trips. But when Brad Bangel and his sister, Nancy Bangel, were considering how to mark their parents’ 70th anniversary, they went into a totally different direction. They thought Torah.

The Bangel siblings commissioned the completion of a Sefer Torah to celebrate the momentous occasion for their parents, Carolyn and Herb Bangel.

“What better way to honor our parents’ 70th wedding anniversary and the long life they’ve enjoyed,” says Brad Bangel. “Nancy and I hope to create a legacy that will serve the community for many generations to come—l’dor va’dor.”

Congregation Beth El will be home to the Bangel Family Torah, used for all religious ceremonies and events, donated in honor of Herb and Carolyn Bangel, and only removed by a Bangel family member.

The Bangel family connection to Congregation Beth El runs deep.

Herb and Carolyn and Herb Bangel and Rabbi Menachem Bialo.

Herb and Carolyn and Herb Bangel and Rabbi Menachem Bialo.

Nancy and Brad attended religious school at Gomley Chesed Synagogue in Portsmouth, which they fondly recall as their first religious home. As membership dwindled, the Bangels joined Congregation Beth El, where the names of their great grandmother and great grandfather are etched in the stain glass window above the bimah.

Once the decision was made on how to honor their parents, Brad led the research effort and learned that Torahs are typically purchased through brokers. He chose to work with Sofer On Site and helped select the font style, wooden poles, belt, and custom embroidered Torah cover.

The personalized Torah was transported from Miami to Norfolk by Rabbi Menachem Bialo, management director of Sofer On Site, arriving just in time for Carolyn’s 90th birthday celebration. Every person in Carolyn and Herb Bangel’s tight circle—including four generations of family members—and dozens of close friends—had an opportunity to complete a letter in the Torah, fulfilling the 613th mitzvah of “writing a Torah scroll.”

Nancy says she shares her brother’s enthusiasm for the new Torah’s chosen home. “To look up and see the name of the person I was named after (Nathan Block), always gives me a sense of belonging,” she says. “For our family to honor my parents with a Torah perpetuates the emotional bond I have with Beth El, and to think that my grandchildren will be able to read from this Torah at their Bar Mitzvahs reaffirms that my parents will always be remembered by their grandchildren in the same way that the windows pull me to my ancestors.”

The Torah, by the way, was not an expected part of the celebration, according to Herb Bangel. “Carolyn and I were quite surprised and joy-filled when we received this gift, a Torah, in honor of our 70th wedding anniversary. Our children, Nancy and Brad, have given us so much pleasure during our lifetimes and now they have topped everything with this gift,” he says.

“We are enthused to know that this Torah will be used by our descendants in celebrating their simchas.”

Ronnie Jacobs Cohen