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Overland Park Messianic congregation honors ancient tradition in hand-carrying Torah to new building

Overland Park Torah procession

The Or HaOlam Messianic Congregation in Overland Park carried its Torah on a procession from its former synagogue to a new location Tuesday evening.
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The Or HaOlam Messianic Congregation in Overland Park carried its Torah on a procession from its former synagogue to a new location Tuesday evening.

An Overland Park Messianic congregation on Tuesday observed an ancient tradition as it carried its Torah scroll by hand from its former building to a new synagogue four miles away.

About 35 members of the Or HaOlam Messianic Congregation formed a procession to carry the Torah from the building at 7029 W. 74th St. that served as their synagogue for 21 years to another building at 9898 W. 95th St.

The congregation of about 140 people includes Jews and non-Jews and follows many Jewish traditions while believing Jesus was the Messiah. In addition to the Torah, the group also carried a scroll containing the Gospels.

It is an ancient Jewish tradition that during such moves, the Torah scroll — a handwritten copy of the first five books of the Old Testament — is carried by hand rather than loaded onto moving trucks with more ordinary possessions.

“There’s a bunch of traditions that we have to show respect and honor for the word of God,” said Shmuel Wolkenfeld, the rabbi and leader of the congregation.

The procession Tuesday was attended by music, and the group estimated the four-mile trip along city streets would take more than an hour.

The Or HaOlam Messianic congregation was founded in 1995 with 30 members.

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