Netivat Sofrut: diary of a Soferet

Adventures of a female sofer learning to heal the world by doing Holy Work...writing a Sefer Torah

נחזיר את השכינה למקומה בצייון ובתבל כלה

"Let us restore the Divine In-Dwelling to Her Place in Zion & infuse Her spirit throughout the whole inhabited world."

So wherever we are, let us bring the Peace of G@d's Presence.

My Photo
Location: Vancouver/London, British Columbia/UK, Canada

SCRIBAL EVANGELIST As the only living certified Soferet (סופרת - female Jewish ritual scribe) & the first woman to practice sofrut (creation of sacred Hebrew texts) in over 200 years, I feel an obligation to blog about my experiences of The Work. I am also currently researching the foundation of a lost tradtion of women practicing this holy craft. For more on the services I provide, please see; Sofrut Nation. I am now available to engage with students, male or female, wishing to enter into the preliminary stage of learning sofrut. You are welcome to join me on this path. "Tzedeq, tzedeq tir'dof - Justice, justice you shall pursue." Devarim/Deuteronomy 16:20.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005



'nuff said...

Monday, May 30, 2005




"Twined Trees" copyright © A. Barclay
English with Reform text lightfast ink & watercolour on 12" x 16" cold pressed 140 lb Canson 100% cotton watercolour paper

Sunday, May 29, 2005




"Planet" ketubah copyright © A. Barclay
Modern Hebrew text lightfast ink on vegetable parchment & lightfast ink & watercolour on 100% cotton watercolour paper

Saturday, May 28, 2005




"Celtic Rings" ketubah copyright © A. Barclay
22" square piece with Traditional Aramaic text & English on vegetable parchment, lightfast ink & watercolour on Arches acid-free archival safe 300lb cold pressed 100% cotton watercolour paper

Friday, May 27, 2005




Fire Amulet © copyright A. Barclay

In recognition of our firey holiday, a flaming amulet where G@d's fertility name, ShDI, divides G@d's being name, the Shem Hameforash YHVH, with David's Shield.
& remember, kids: only YOU can prevent forest fires...

For instructions oh how to build your own authentic Lag B'Omer bonfire, read this.

Thursday, May 26, 2005



Adapted From The Works Of Professor Shulamit Reinharz

1. A Jewish Leader knows enough Torah and other traditional texts to be able to draw on them in speeches (with reasonable pronunciation) and can write and deliver “divrei torah” comfortably and competently.

2. A Jewish leader knows enough Jewish history to be able to see what they are doing in the context of historical trends.

3. A Jewish leader keeps informed about what is going on in the Jewish world.

4. A Jewish leader visits Israel at least every four years.

5. A Jewish leader ensures children receive Hebrew names and a Jewish education.

6. A Jewish leader understands Jewish holidays and rituals.

7. A Jewish leader knows some Hebrew.

8. A Jewish leader can explain Jewish ideas to others.

9. A Jewish leader knows some basic facts about Jewish demography and geography here and abroad.

10. A Jewish leader is guided by the concept of “klal Yisrael” and has explored Jewish communities abroad and feels a sense of responsibility for their welfare.

11. A Jewish leader has a non-competitive approach to other Jewish organizations.

12. A Jewish leader is philanthropic.

13. A Jewish leader can sing a few songs and dance a few Israeli dances.

14. A Jewish leader has empathy for the whole range of Jews, young and old, sick and well, poor and rich, disabled and able-bodied, gay and straight, single and partnered, beautiful and plain, unaffiliated and religious, white and black, intermarried and in-married, rural and urban, Eastern or Western, Russian and Ethiopian, Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Mizrachi, and born-Jewish and Jewish-by-choice.

15. A Jewish leader has a vision of the world wide Jewish community of the future and of our relation to non-Jews.

16. A Jewish leader understands the concept of mitzvot and tries to live by many of them without being self-righteous.

17. A Jewish leader helps others become Jewish leaders.

18. A Jewish leader…

…It’s up to you to fill in the 18th point!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005



So I used to buy this $9 wine at my local BCLDB. It was the oddest beverage ever: organic blueberry wine from Newfoundland called Rodrigues complete with two hekshers.
& boy was it tasty!
A Pesadika eastern Canadian organic fruit wine with a Portuguese name. How weird.
& then the evil powers that be discontinued the drink & I was sad :(
Only today did I rediscover it in City Square at a specialty wine boutique - they actually had a kosher/organic section!
I was so excited until I saw the price tag:
I'm so torn. Maybe I'll buy some for a Shabbes treat, but not regularly, with that mark-up!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005



Ever notice how when people adopt a uniform, it's because they are voluntarily dehumanising themselves & offering to be utilised as a tool for some force outside themselves?

I'm serious: private schools, the military, various Jewish sects....each person in uniform (note the word - "one shape") was a sacred individual manifestation of G@d, & chose to sublimate their unique personalities & use their special gifts in service of a man-made philosophy, rather than in the service of G@d. From tzelem Eloqim, a shadow or image of G@d, to automaton.

Words for "uniform" in Hebrew include:

"Bigday serad" (survival clothes).
"Iqvi", the shoresh/root Ayin Quf Bet means follow, trace, track, polluted, & our favourite: cheat, as in our ancestor Ya'aqov. The same letters in a different order gives us "qavu'a", meaning fixed, designated, permanence, set, install.
"Zeyheh" translates as identical, or to identify the Self with an idea.

All these words indicate an inflexibility, an artificial barrier between the soul's potential & it's articulation. & perhaps a fear of one's true Self being too raw an expression of G@d.

So what is a uniform? Is it just soldier's garb, or is it a suit & tie, a shtreiml, maybe just long sleeves & skirts?

Can the ability of a uniform, whatever shape it takes, to bring together individuals always be for the greater good, or do participants all ultimately join the Borg & become faceless, soul-less tools?

When we submit to a uniform, are we still fulfilling G@d's intended singular purpose for our lives?

This idea of mine is still half-baked, obviously, so I'll stew in these questions meantime.
Tawk amongst yeselves.

Monday, May 23, 2005



Blogging in the garden while the coconut curry simmers...

I watched the parade this morning on CH. I really miss going to it every year ever since I moved to Vancouver, so the telly will have to do. Joel & I marked our 11th anniversary of probably seeing each other for the first time, as '94 was the first year he marched in the parade with his high school band & I never missed a second of the festivities...

The party started with "Captain George" Forest at the head. He's the official greeter of Victoria, & he & I used to work next door to each other years ago when I was a tobacconist here. He was a good guy.

Good ol' Gordy Tupper, one of CH's beloved personalities, gets the prize for making the most hilarious accidental comment of the parade: as he spotted the Ocean River Sports float featuring multiple kayakers suspended above the street paddling the air, he enthusiastically exclaimed, "These guys think they're passing water, but they're not!"

& of course, no parade would be complete without shriners on scooters! Actually, my favourite is the pennyfarthing riders :)

I took off this afternoon to enjoy the holiday Monday, which I never do. I'm usually so busy being Jewish that I don't partake in or even recognise "normal" Canadian goings-on. It was a gorgeous day today, too, & I deserve to not work occasionally. I'd make a bad Israeli, as I can only take only 1 day off a week for so long...

Anyway, I strolled up to one of my fave used bookstores, Kestrel, & browsed to my heart's content. I picked up a copy of one of the best books ever written, IMHO, The Piano Man's Daughter by Timothy Findley. My friend Melissa invited me to a reading of his at UVic the year it was published & I remember sitting in the dark so enraptured by the way he threaded his voice through his words.

Several years later, when I was homesick for Canada after living in Israel for almost a year, I used to frequent a particular net-café in the Russian Compound of Yerushalayim. it was Canadian-owned & operated, with all the employees & performers being "Canoe Jews". It was awesome. I could spend an evening there enjoying a folk singer from Calgary or a day there working the web to tunes by Sarah McLachlan, the Barenaked Ladies, Moxy Fruvous or Crash Test Dummies. It almost felt like home... one day I was chatting with one of the girls who worked the counter there, & she handed me a book. "Do you want this?", she asked, "'Cause I'm finished reading it & it was really good." It was The Piano Man's Daughter.

"Really good" was an understatement.

Each night I turned in with this novel, falling asleep before I could put it down. It was such an enchanting read, that by the time I was only 20 pages into it's 500 leaves, I was already dreading the time when I would finish reading it, & then I would no longer have this nighttime companion. I felt sad.

Fast forward 7 years & I have bought myself a softcover of it, with a newer cover illustration (I preferred the flaming piano on the original) & settled myself down in the nearest park. I sat on a large stone, people-watched, & dove back into this story until it was time for me to return home & cook dinner.

Fortified, I floated home on the neighbourhood scent of barbeques & beer.

Sunday, May 22, 2005



There's nothing like watching Canadian history unfold before your eyes live on the CBC. & to see the Speaker of the House announce the survival of the new coalition government in both languages! How exhiliarating! & what a circus!

Belinda Stronach crossed the floor to get a cabinet post - so what? Men have done that regularly & nobody has blinked, much less accused them of being ambitious. What's wrong with a little ambition, anyway? Perhaps if we cattily criticised the male Members of Parliament & their appearances each time they made a career move the way Ms. Stronach's has been, we'd have a different attitidue on Parliament Hill.

I would like to personally thank Independent MP Chuck Cadman for bothering to poll his constituents & voting with the conscience of the people he represents. He may be the only one in government actually doing his job. May he heal quickly & completely from the cancer pursuing him.

To Steven Harper I say: Er zol vaksen vi a tsibeleh, mit dem kop in drerd! ("he should grow like an onion, with his head in the ground!")

Peter MacKay's photo-op being staged in his father's potato patch only hours after Stronach abandoned him & the Conservative Party is questionable at best. To feature close-ups of an ex-boyfriend's long face is a rather feeble attempt to split that news story along gender lines by targeting an empathetic audience consisting of jilted males. So he's not the Alpha Male anymore...that's politics & that's love for you. & what's with that dog? It's probably not even his ;+> - if there's any justice in the world, that pooch will run away by Tuesday.

& now, Stronach & MacKay are both in Labrador, attempting to seduce voters they usually ignore.

& Although I was afraid that Prime Minister Paul Martin would single-handedly destroy Canada if elected, he's actually turned out to be a real dufus - not as dangerous as our previous anglo Prime Ministers born in Québéc. He's acting cool about this latest vote in the House, but he's obviously running scared.

...& all this going on just in time for the Queen's visit! HM must be so proud of her little Colony.

All I have to say about Premier Gordon Campbell is "boo! hiss!" 4 more years of faux Liberal cutbacks to social programs & schools! The last thing we need here in BC is for a drunk-driving right-winger slashing away at medical services when avian flu is about to explode into the next global pandemic. That's why SARS was so scary & deadly in Toronto, because of former Premier Mike Harris' irresponsible fiscal "management" of Ontario's medical resources & playing chicken with former Prime Minister Teflon Jean. A game you cannot win.

HAWAII! Reconsider jail time for our dangerous Premier! You are our only hope!

Book'em, Dano!

Saturday, May 21, 2005



"Planting trees
early in Spring
we build a place
for birds to sing
in time to come
how do we know
they're singing there now
they're singing there now
there is no other guarantee
that singing will ever be."

cherry tree ketubah

"Chery Tree Ketubah"© copyright A. Barclay

Friday, May 20, 2005



Here's a fascinating article about restoring a Sefer Torah, by a non-Jewish archivist, complete with colourful eye-candy! How can you resist?!!?

Update: read Alisha's statement about this problem of neither Jews taking responsibility for this Sefer Torah, nor non-Jews being allowed to use their skills to preserve it with kavod

Thursday, May 19, 2005



...once again:


"Cosmos Ketubah"© copyright A. Barclay

Wednesday, May 18, 2005



According to Talmud Bavli Yoma 29a, the letter Quf represents Chuldah HaNeviyah on it's list of 22 saintly women/alefbet correspondence table. She appears only in II Kings 22:14 & II Chron. 34:14-28, but she changes the course of Jewish history & that of the ancient theocratic kingdom of Israel. The letter Quf itself has the gematria of 100, which is that of the words Mem-Chet-Yud Tet-Bet-Alef-Lamed, or "mitigation of the one by the other". This fascinates me, because G@d's decree against Israel was mitigated slightly through Chuldah on account of the king's immediate effort to do teshuvah (repent).

The gematria of the name "Chuldah", feminine for "choled" (weasel), is:
is 47

This is the same gematria as Bet-Mem-Hey, which can be vocalized "bimah" or "bamah": cloud, fortress, high place, waves, stage, platform, pulpit, mound, altar, mesa, scaffold, rostrum....& that's where she prophesied & taught, at the "Chuldah" gates, the double-gate at the top of the 15 steps leading to the temple mount, just above the south-side miqva'ot. We cannot pass through these gates any longer, where we would ascend to the Har HaBayit on our pilgrimmages singing Shir HaMalot, as they have been walled up & debris thrown into the tunnels by others. There is also an idea that Chudah was Known as "weasel" due to her frequenting the tunnels...

47 is also the same gematria as "Yo'el", or Joel, the angel ruling the astrological Betulah/Virgo (which is my sign, but enough of the mushy stuff)...

In the Tanakh, only one woman is mentioned as someone who writes and it is davka the evil queen Izevel & her writing was a command to murder Navot the Carmelite. So there at least were literate women in our past, even if they happened to be evil...

Concerning Chuldah: other prophetesses are mentioned by name like Chuldah who lived during the time of King Yoshayahu and are mentioned in the Book of Kings. The scroll that was discoved in the Temple during the days of King Yoshayahu was brought to her in order to prove that it was an ancient scroll, which she did. The fact that the King chose her to verify that this scroll was written by the hand of Moshe Rabeynu (so the story goes), rather than ask a different prophet or even his own personal scribe, Shafan, shows she was one of the true writers or at least a soferet with ru'ach nevu'ah. [can't find sources given for this, still working on it]

This means that if Chuldah HaNeviyah were a soferet, she would predate HaSoferet from the books of Ezra & Nechemyah & possibly be the earliest record of a female scribal tradition in Judaism.

A known literary study by Harold Blom a few years ago raised the exotic theory that attracted much attention, that one of the sources of the Chumash and the Book of Samuel was written by the hands of a woman - a widow, according to him - since according to him there is a unique feminine style. One feminist scholar (I can't remember her name - can anybody help?) claims that Shir Hashirim was written by a woman, but it is a very controversial view.

The following is an excerpt from the LaG B'Omer list of our women representing each of the sefirot on I was so pleased to see that LaG B'Omer is the day of counting the sefirot that Chuldah represents...enjoy it & keep Chuldah in mind this Thursday night when you "light your fire"...

"33. Hod shebeHod - The Glory within Glory

According to the Bible, the Israelite kingdoms that follow the rule of David and Solomon are plagued by godlessness. One righteous king of Judah, named Josiah, discovers that the high priest has discovered a sacred scroll in the Temple which teaches that God is angry because of the people's violations. But Josiah does not know if the scroll is authentically the word of God. Josiah asks a delegation of his royal officers to go to Chuldah, a prophetess who lives in Jerusalem, and find out from her whether he should govern according to the words of the mysterious scroll.

Chuldah, surrounded by the high ranks of the king's court, delivers her verdict: the scroll is authentic, and God plans to punish the people with exile because they have disobeyed God's word. But Josiah's lifetime will be peaceful, because he has humbled himself before God.

It is extraordinary that Chuldah, a woman, is not only a prophetess who is valued and respected by the king, but the first person in the Bible ever to canonize a text. The work Chuldah recognizes as God's word is probably Deuteronomy, the book of the Torah that promises exile in retaliation for the people's disloyalty. The rabbis of the Talmud ask why the king consults a woman when there are other great (male) prophets around, and concludes that it is because Chuldah is compassionate that the king asks her. Yet whatever the reason, it is clear that Chuldah begins a new kind of prophecy in Israel-- the process of reading and interpreting sacred text. Chuldah represents hod shebe'hod, receptivity within receptivity, prophecy within prophecy, for her prophecy allows Israel to experience the prophetic voice in a new way.

The thirty-third day of the Omer is also Lag B'Omer. Lag B'Omer is a minor holiday frequently celebrated with bonfires and with the cutting of the hair of young boys. Lag B'Omer marks a day when Rabbi Akiva's students stopped dying of plague, and celebrates the triumph of rabbinic Torah study. It also marks the yahrtzeit (death date) of Shimon bar Yochai, traditionally named as the author of the Zohar, a work of mysticism. It is appropriate that Chuldah be remembered on a day that is a celebration of prophecy."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005



It's pouring out of the sky & bounding off the trampoline in the side yard!

Joel just got an e-mail saying that some friends of ours, their baby just died. We've been saying tehilim for her the whole 14 months of her life, but HaShem took her anyway. The funeral is in BC, but the shiva is in Washington State, so we'll go to that & lend our support tomorrow. Very sad news.
May the memory of Tehillah Yehudis be only for a blessing.

Monday, May 16, 2005



This morning, before commencing the Torah-checking at B'nai Torah, Joel took me to one of the local organic farms we could bike to for any future grocery trips. This will come in handy when we build our Jewish co-housing community as well.

Wandered into Traditions, where there was plenty of organic clothing, plenty of fair trade Buddhas & no Jewish stuff. Smelled good, tho'...

After lunch, Sherri let me into the synagogue so I could check their 2 Torahs - a small delicate one written in Vellish (Sefardi) script & another larger one.
The large was brushed with log, a substance made from powdered qlaf & chalk which is applied wet & then dries on the parchment. It's often used to make thin qlaf look less transluscent (ie, thicker) & also appear whiter. Whiter parchment is easier to read from, & is considered aesthetically more pleasing as well, so it's more expensive for sofrim to buy & we pass that expense on to our customers. This is a problem, because log can wear off & flake pretty quickly, which leaves a Sefer looking ugly & not kosher. There is also a makhlochet (dispute in Jewish Law) about whether or not Sifrei Torah, Mezuzot or Tefilin are ever kosher to begin with if their writing surfaces are coated with log. Why? Because the letters are not written on the parchment, but on an intervening substance & besides, it's bad karma.

So, why do some sofrim do this? Good question.
Note: I refuse to use qlaf mashuchah (parchment brushed with log) in any of my work.

The log had already begun rubbing off of this relatively new Sefer. Even slight moisture can create wrinkles in the parchment which, when the coating rubs away from these raised & folded areas, will reveal the greys & browns underneath - the true colours of the qlaf & then wear the letters away & turn into tears, as wrinkles in Torahs eventually do :(

I'm so glad I'm using the finest quality of parchment for my Kadima-Torah!

Wish I could write in Sefardi style - I could write so much faster without compromising the letters & then I would be under a lot less pressure from my clients.

Joel & I headed into town again to have dinner with my father-in-law, which was quite grand. It's good to have such a great one, too, & so much like my own Dad...

I gave my "Netivat Sofrut" talk in the social hall back at the Conservative shul which was quite well received. It generated more Halakhic debate & discussions of real-world applications than I think of any other group I've ever spoken to!

Drove to Silverdale after a large helping of peanut butter cookies to visit with the mom-in-law & family... was a full day.

Good night!

Sunday, May 15, 2005



Taught at the Richland Hebrew school this morning, which was a lot of fun. First I drew out the Sh'ma for the kids (& some adults who joined in) in Ashkenazi Torah kativ & they copied it out on paper with felt pens. I explained that we were writing 2 Yuds & Eloqeinu" instead of G@d's names & why. Then I passed out quills & scraps of parchment for them to write with. It was great - some kids were totally into it & others I heard cursing under their breath :)
"I NEVER want this job!"
Which is important information for them to have, of course, & part of their Jewish experience.

We said goodbye to Janine, who packed us a lunch for the road & sent us off (I was a bit teary).

We drove through Hanford, where Oppenheimer & his Manhattan Project lackeys developed the A-Bomb...later Cold War experiements were secretly executed on the local population by tainting the municipal water supply. Apparently, the number of innocent American civilians you can make sick or kill will give you a good idea of how many Soviet citizens you can cut down in the same manner.

Such a beautiful range of rolling hills & open sky punctuated by concrete nuclear test bunkers...should have brought my geiger-counter.

We arrived in Yakima - The Palm Springs of Washington, as the billboard reads as you swing into town - where I gave my "Netivat Sofrut" talk followed by a short Hebrew calligraphy class. Alex & Amanda & Elaine were very cool, as was Joe Brown's (Joel's ex-roomie) mum. I was really pleased to meet them. When Joe Brown told Joel that he was a Jew from Yakima, who went to a shul on Brown Street headed by a Rabbi Brown...well, he got twitchy.

Alex & Amanda turned me onto this group, so I'm totally jazzed to get involved!

Headed back to Olympia & had STEAK for dinner with Sherri & Neal! The last time I had real, fresh steak was at Shor HaBar in Yerushalayim in '98. It melted in my mouth.

Went for a walk after dinner to grab a beer at the Fishtail Brewery. C'est domage, it was closed already (silly Sunday blue-laws) so we just went to a local tavern. I had Pyramid Hefeweizen, one of my all-time faves. Heading to bed now so I'm fresh for the Torah-checking I'm to do tomorrow...

Leylah tov!

Saturday, May 14, 2005



On Shabbes we had a 3 mile walk to shul in the hot & sunny schvitzy desert. Joel led Pesuqey Dezimrah & I was surprised with the honour of carrying the Torah (I write 'em, so why cant I carry 'em?). It was odd because I haven't carried it for men to touch in several years - I carry it on our side of the mechitzah at Shaarey Telfilah all the time.

Anyway, people seemed to enjoy us very much.
I connected with a Womens League rep from TO (that would be Toronto, for all you non-Canucks) who I quite liked & am looking forward to networking with. Our hosts, Stan & Janine is are SO SWEET! We chatted with friendly people over qidush & then took our 3 mile walk back in the sweltering heat.

I was dirty beyond redemption! (that's one of those quotes that bad journalists will love to take out of context. Next thing you know, there'll be a web site called "Soferet-Cam"...NOT!)

We did qidush again at home & had lunch just the three of us of YUMMY Turkish Sephardic food that Janine made. We have really enjoyed our stay. The Bensussen's have made our visit very welcoming & heimish & we have terrific conversations with them.

Talked forever about Jews, Judaism in small towns, how to keep your kids Jewish in a consumer-society & NOT in an idolatrous way (being that Joel & I believe that Jewish denominations are simply yet another "consumer choice"; & to treat our religion & consequently our relationship to G@d as such is, in fact, idolatrous). We also talked about the concept of home, world wildlife, Halakhah, gay marriage...until finally I had a schulf. :)
They kept chatting!

Some of the dialogue we've had this week with them has really opened my eyes as to just how difficult it can be to make a Jewish home & family in a small centre. Joel & I both grew up in small towns & we want our kids (may G@d bless us with them) to enjoy that sort of childhood, too. The thing is, no resources. This is why we're looking into kosher ways of building a small miqveh (that way I can go each morning before work, not just for taharat hamishpachah), he wants to learn how to shecht, & we want to tempt mitzvah-inebriated Jews to make a community with us.

An extended family.

Neighbours dog barked me awake, so I was grumpy & disoriented for the rest of the day :(

Havdalah was very sweet. Then I hit the shower so I could finish fixing the second Torah. That's right - I didn't get all my work done by Friday (I'd make a bad Robinson Crusoe), so back to the shul I go!

The thing is, I spent 2 days just on the last yeri'ah of Devarim, so it took me longer than I had estimated. Janine, ever the trooper, let me into the shul & sat down with her book. I got into Sefer Breyshit (working from the end, not The Beginning) about 1am, attending to & givong renewed life to these poor crumbling letters.

Poor Janine is snoring on the chesterfield in the foyer as I write this - she is so great to bring me here & let me work late into the night so that I can complete the work I pledged to do this week :)

For the otiyot Lamed, Khaf, Quf, etc the top horizontal stroke is curved down toward the right, & the bottom horizontal stroke is straight (like the bottom of the bet stroke, but it doesn't overlap & extend beyond the top stroke's curve/vertical). I was taught to make this bottom stroke curve up to meet the top one. I think the way this sofer does it is very pretty (so is my sofer's way), but he has the advantage - I think it's a bit faster...


Shavu'ah tov!

Friday, May 13, 2005



The air conditioning is on today, B"H.

Thank G@d, I'm learning so much by retracing the letters of the sofer who wrote this Sefer Torah! By filling in where his old otiyot have broken or worn away, my hand learns his strokes & angles. There is a poetic, delicate nature to his curves & shapes, his negative space. His Gevurah & Chesed. Like the way he so beautifully placed the head of the Lamed in "kol" between the feet of Peh & Quf in "paqad" (Bemidbar/Numbers 3:39). I like to "look through" it & capture new visions.

Although all his letters are recognisable, I know that my sofer wouldn't accept some of them. He taught me to be very machmir (strict) in how I form my letters, so that they look just like the examples of Ashkenazi script in the Qeset HaSofer (the laws of scrolls for Ashkenazim which was codified by Rav Shlomo Gansfried of Hungary). These letters are K'tav Beit Yosef, but have some K'tav Ari aesthetics evident. My sofer would only accept a script which was of a single type, not mixed styles. Also, this sofer's taggin are very tall. I think they're pretty, like palm fronds waving in the breeze. But my sofer would say that the middle tag is not always higher that the two on either side, that they complicate the layout with descending strokes from the line above because of their height & worst of all, the Yuds could be mistaken for small Lameds with such high strokes, so they would all be pasul.

Now don't get me wrong, I am in no way criticizing this sofer's work. Judging by his spacing & other writing skills, he was more experienced when he wrote this Sefer than I am currently. I'm just making observations about something I am so curious about & love so much.

& I am so far away from my mentor (sigh)...

Janine, one of our fabulous hosts, said that later in the week there would be a lot more going on at the synagogue, what with Shabbes coming & all, & that there would probably be quite a few people sneaking into the sanctuary so they can take a peek at my work. So far only 2 people have come & they were so afraid to disturb me that they stayed for about a nano-second before excusing themselves. It's not that I mind either way, I mean sure, I enjoy a quiet workspace, but c'mon - sofrut is SO COOL! You'd think the Yidden would be lining up to learn about it!

Something else happened today that really surprised me: Janine told me that I was "so humble." I smiled, but said nothing as I was a bit stunned, to tell you the truth. My first thought was, "well, she's obviously never read my blog!"
I am still wondering what it is she sees in me that inspired her to say that. I have never considerd myself humble & have often recognised, during my adult life, that this is a middah (character trait) which I needed - still need - to improve.

May The Holy One guide me to true humility...

Thursday, May 12, 2005



YAY! Good news this morning! I now officially have enough students attending my class at the ALEPH Kallah! Barukh HaShem! Barukh Yah!! Barukh HaMaqom!!!

Sunny & warm, naturally, here in the desert...
There's a buzz downstairs here this morning as the ladies are baking for Shabbes. The cookies & cakes smell SO good, but I had chicken for lunch, so no milchik for me :(

I went down to the social hall to make myself some herbal tea (in styrofoam - bluchh) when I was collared by a few of the older ladies who founded this community. "You know, when we built our synagogue 50 years ago, we only had 12 families," one said. I expressed how marvellous that was. "& then more people moved here," she continued.
"If you build it, they will come," I smiled
"Well, & then a lot of them started moving away again..." she frowned.

It's so hot in here, between the spring warmth & the ovens going downstairs. I keep having to lay more sheets of paper down on the Torah to protect it from my shvitzing. I've been standing, working at the bimah for 4 solid daze now. I often stand to work on repairs & this bimah has a terrific angle, so that I can easily reach all parts of the Torahs without straining my back by leaning over too far for hours on end. But the standing does take its toll. I can always tell which synagogues have bothered to install really cushy underfelt beneath their carpets...

Only got into Bemidbar today & I have to finish all the way to the tear near the beginning of Breyshit by tomorrow at 5pm.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005



It was exhilarating to cut the eitz chayim (the roller) free from the qlaf, I must admit. I did that last night & then allowed it to flatten overnight so I would have an easier job of gluing & sewing today.

I spent the first 2 hours of work today just patching holes & tears in the last yeri'ah of Devarim/Deuteronomy. The gid (viscera) had torn through its holes & there was a slash right through a pasuq containing 2 of G@'s names, which I will have to re-write, so I had my work cut out for me, so to speak.

Cutting the qlaf to fit the window I made was a challenge, as there were some ascenders & descenders (letters which rise up above & hang down below the line) to take into account. & I had to keep trimming it by a hair's breadth so that it would fit just right. Too narrow & I would have to start all over again & re-write the words I was replacing on yet another piece of parchment, beginning the whole process anew.

On my lunch break I sat & ate leftovers (spaghetti with REAL met balls!) from last night's dinner while I perused "Great Jews on Stage & Screen". It was a cracking good read, except that the author left out CHARLIE CHAPLIN!

Of the famous Canadian Jews, listed were Sadie Marks (aka Mary Livingstone, Jack Benny's wife), Lorne Greene, William Shatner (that's right, Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the Starship Enterprise is a Canuck - in fact, his niece is a neighbour & friend of ours), Norma Shearer, Joseph Wiseman, Lloyd Bochner, Oscar Brand, Monty Hall (yes, THE Monty Hall fo "Let's Make a Deal" fame), Lou Jacobi, Jack Kruschen, Mort Sahl, David Steinberg &, last but not least, Johnny Wayne & Frank Shuster. Wayne & Shuster were the only Canadian Jews who didn't sell out by going to the US & they STILL became internationally acclaimed entertainers. May they both rest in peace.

Lorne Michaels was also not in the book, but deserves mentioning here.

After I finished lunch & bentsched, I went back to check on the paste I had left to dry. It wasn't quire cured yet, so I rooted around in the aron, found that this congregation's Megilat Esther was torn & proceeded to patch & re-sew the first yeri'ah so that it could be easily taken out of its olive wood cylinder. I won't charge them for it. Just an extra :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005



blogging while waiting for a patch to dry...

This morning on my walk I was struck by the sharp, sickly sweet fragrance of the desert flora reminiscent of times I've spent sitting with corpses awaiting burial. Those of you who have served on a chevra qadisha will know what I'm talking about.
& I saw the stripey hide of a tabby cat flattened at the side of the highway like an exotic tiger rug, so central to the Victorian gentleman's smoking room.
why did they call them "gentle men" when they went about shooting everything that moved & then displaying the shells of their kill about their homes?

Work on the second Sefer Torah went slowly today. There's a lot more wrong with this one than the previous - more serious issues. Although it has been carefully repaired in the past, it has also been not-so-carefully repaired: masking tape, white-out & blue ink abound. There are also trope marks written in in pencil, which will have to go...

In Parshat VeZot HaBerakhah, there's a pasuq which, if one writes or corrects it, it is considered as though one had written an entire Sefer Torah. It's Devarim/Deuteronomy chapter 33 verse 4:

"Torah tzivah lanu Moshe morashsah qehilat Ya'aqov."
"This Teaching (Torah) with which Moses charged us is the heritage of the congregation of Jacob."

It just so happened that this sentence was pasul, so I re-inked the whole thing very carefully, making sure it had lots of beautiful taggin fanning out. It's kosher now :)

Blesséd are You, my L@rd, our G@d, ruler over time & space, who has given us life, nurtured us & helped us to reach this moment.

Monday, May 09, 2005



Okay, yesterday wasn't a total Murphy's Law kind if day - I did remember to send e-Mother's Day cards to my mum, my sisters, my aunt, Joel's mom & grandma, my nieces (yes, I'm a great-aunt!) & our rebbitzen as well as mommy-types from our shul.

Today was better. Got a late start due to the Horrific Day Which Will Never Be Mentioned Again, but after a good night's sleep, it all came out in the wash. I went for my walk after shachrit along the bike trail here & it was just gorgeous.

There were magpies! They are so beautiful! I remember this hardcover nature book put out by the CAA which my parents bought in 1975, after we moved to Victoria. I couldn't be parted from that book for all the tea in China. I used to sleep with it. In fact, it's still in my bookcase at home, to this day :)

Anyway, I digress. Not that it's bad to digress, but I ain't no Garrison Keillor. So the book was called "Outdoors Canada" & it was in that book I first saw a picture of a magpie. I wanted to know why, if they were members of the raven family, why we didn't have any on the Island (that would be Vancouver Island in BC-Speak). My parents couldn't answer me. Perhaps they had been so throughly caught up in their responsible adult lives that they had not noticed that we had no magpies...

So I didn't get to see a magpie until I was 11, on our first trip back to England, where my mum is from. I was enchanted. & then not again until my first trip to Norway at 21.

& here they were again, here in the desert. The light rain had left the ochre earth damp & smelling of fresh life. Everywhere were rainbow tumbleweeds of beige, grey, yellow...
Tiny desert flowers on spindly stalks poked out of the cracks in the ground & all over was this one magpie. So beautiful. I watched it negotiate the wind so skillfully, delicately. I wanted to come close to it where it landed near the edge of the trail, just to feel its presence, & yet secretly I wished it would shoo when I approached so I could ogle it's striking black, white & navy plumage. So I kept my head facing forward, so the bill of my ball cap would give this bird the impression that I wasn't taking it in out of the corner of my eye.

I marvelled at the spread of of its feathers.

On the way back, I caught sight of a red-winged blackbird in a eucalyptus. In-drawing.

After I showered & got ready, I packed up my tools & headed to the synagogue. I spent the next 9 hours patching holes & tears, re-inking broken letters & repairing seams. But at the end of all that time, I was done! YAY!
One thing, though: I decided to leave one letter, the last one which needed correction, for Joel, just so he could get the mitzvah.

Then I made sure he said a shehechiyanu :)

Sunday, May 08, 2005



Can we get a do-over for today? It was horrible :(

I mean, last night was good, B"H, the miqveh & all & it's little green tiles (I always go to miqveh before I correct Sifrei, so this tevilah is not necessarily connected with our keeping of taharat hamishpachah) but there's something unmentionable going on with the women's miqveh, so I was shown to the men's. Luckily, it was all clean & stuff - since men don't have to use a belt sander on their bodies like women do before they enter the water, they leave all kinds of personal things behind in a miqveh - but this time, no prob.

But today was just one thing after another. Including that we locked ourselves - ok, I locked us out of the house we were staying at with the bulk of Joel's stuff still inside. I just wanted to make sure the cats wouldn't escape & what do I get for my trouble? Major drag. We were expected in the next town & couldn't leave this one until our hosts returned, G@d knows when. We tried to break into the house. We moped on the front steps, starving.

Finally they came home. We finished our chores & bid them adieu. I felt pretty sheepish. We had a long drive ahead of us & we were really late. Did I mention that the ink I'd brought for the Hebrew School kids to write with this Sunday spilled in the car?

The drive was pretty, of course - heading into the wilderness to seek the Jews always is a scenic trip. Our wonderful hosts were glad to see us & we settled in. We visited a bit with them, but ultimately needed to crash due to the late night & tragically wasted day. I'd hoped to start in on their Sefer Corrections, but went to bed instead.

Til tomorrow!

Saturday, May 07, 2005



(My apologies to the authors of "Oh, What a Lovely War".

crop circle tree-of-life.jpg

I'm sorry, I have no idea who took this pic. Just can't resist the crop circles...

Wowee, Shabbes was a trip this week, man. We should get out to these little pockets of Jewish light more often! We were late (as usual) getting into town, but thankfully far in advance of candle lighting. We stayed with Sherri & Neal & their kids, who were magically terrific. Got to know each other over dinner, had a fabulous time & then retired to the groovy attic loft to sleep off all the travel & get ready for our 5-mile walk to the synagogue tomorrow...with no eruv...

...what would Reb Shlomo do???

The walk was really beautiful - I forget sometimes that Vancouver, green & oceany as it is, still often smells like a big city. Nothing but fresh air here, flowers, plants, sea...
The folks at shul were so friendly. Joel's dad came & everything. They welcomed my vort & we sat down to lunch together. Quite a colourful bunch. Funny, too. That "old guy" sense of humour which I love.

5 miles back & along the water. It was breezy, but totally gorgeous. Talked about community, Jews, schooling kids, volunteering. There was a ship in from Russia called "Captain Man" from Vladivostok (yes, I read Cyrillic).

Shlumped on the bed after the 10-miles of trotting under the open sky & shluffed til havdalah-time. Then we packed up, thanked our hosts immensely & headed for our next destination:

A miqveh.

Friday, May 06, 2005



I'm giving this d'var at a shul we will be guests at tomorrow:

In honour of Susan Davis, of Seattle.

This week's Parsha begins with G@d urging us to be holy: “Va-y’dabeyr Y_H_V_H el-Moshe Leymor: Dabeyr el-kol-adat b’nai-Yisra’el v’amarta aleyhem qedoshim tih’yu ki qadosh ani Ad@nai Eloqeykhem.”
Which roughly translates (in my world) as: "& Y_H_V_H spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the entire community of the Children of Israel, & say to them: “Holy are you to be, for holy am I, Y_H_V_H, your G@d!”

You'll notice it's in the imperative...

Does anyone know the gematria of the word Qedoshim?
Quf = 100
Dalet = 4
Shin = 300
Yud = 10
Mem = 40
Equals 454

454 is the same gematria as “chotam” (feminine is Chotemet) = seal, signet, stamp, mark, imprint.

In Shir HaShirim/Song of Songs 8:6, where the voice of the woman insists to her lover: “Simeni kachotam al libekha…”, "Stamp me like a seal in your heart …” (siman = sign, mark, indication, also: to take shape, to be denoted, to stand out)

What do we call the wedding ceremony in Hebrew?

What does the Chatan, the groom, say to his Kallah, his bride, under the chupah, to make them married?
“Harey et mequdeshet li, b’taba’at zo…”

He says with this ring, you are consecrated to me – you are imprinted on me – you are holy to me!
The ring is the siman, the sign of the marriage & you know what? The word “siman” begins with the letter Samekh…which is shaped like a ring!
& the word “to me”, “li”, is so powerful! In Sh'mot parshat Yitro/Exodus 19:5 it says - "V'atah im-shamo'a tish'mu b'qoli ush'martem et-b'riti vih'yitem li segulah mikal-ha'amim ki-li kal-ha'aretz"
"So now, if you will hearken, yes, hearken to My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be to Me a special-treasure from among all peoples. Indeed, all the earth is Mine:"
The place in the Torah where G@D says to us, "...vih'yitem li segulah..." - " shall be to Me a special-treasure..." - the Lamed and the Yud of "li" - "to Me" or "for Me" are written joined. Our tradition tells us that these two letters in this word are joined at this point in the Torah to show the closeness and intimacy that G@D wishes to share with us. Because if ANY other letters have negiyah (are touching) in a Sefer Torah, that entire Torah is pasul - not kosher. But here?

You know what else the shoresh/ root of Ch-T-M means? To COMPLETE! This is the definition of holiness.

How close, intimate & exclusive these lovers must be to truly become one to authentically experience marriage on every possible level. Just as the lover in the Shir passionately invites, “dedicate your Self to me”, so does G@d passionately invite us, “Dedicate your SELF to me.”

Same as the closeness we can achieve with G@d, only through love, & surrender of the ego. This is the only way to fully cleave our souls into one.

Just as spouses have a unique opportunity to unify with each other, so do we have the unique opportunity to unify with G@d.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, May 05, 2005




"Star Eytz"© copyright A. Barclay

Did I mention we're off on another road trip? Whenever we're on the move I am always reminded of this gouache piece I painted while living in Kfar Hanasi in '97. The Mageyn David & the Eitz Chayim morphing together the way you pack up your bag, your tools, your office & head on out into the Big World. Flexibility. Vigilance. Faith.

I wish I had a better sense of humour about these trips, but I just hate crossing into the USA. It's improved since Joel has his Canadian Visitor's Visa stapled into his US passport & we make sure the guards know that I'm sponsoring his immigragtion to my country. But still. Any crossing could be a disaster. We aim for the middle-aged guys who chew gum. They let us (read me) in with no trouble, which is appropriate for innocent civilians who will not be committing crimes during their stay. The young guys are the worst - they have something to prove. Blah.

Hopefully, the communities whose Sifrei Torah I will be checking & fixing, to whom I will be teaching Hebrew calligraphy & Midrash on the Alefbet, will benefit sufficiently that the spreading of Torah will outshine the trepidation.

My trepidation...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005




"Bukharan" ketubah copyright © A. Barclay
Traditional Aramaic text with lightfast ink & watercolour on vegetable parchment & 300 lb cold pressed Arches acid-free archival safe 100% cotton watercolour paper

Tuesday, May 03, 2005



Note: May 4th Update below

As a certified Soferet, I am often asked about these silk-screened "Sifrei Torah" that have been leaking into the ST"M (Sifrei Torah, Mezuzot & Tefilin) market, & what my professional & Halakhic opinion is of this practice.

So belt up, y'all. I'm goin' on a rant...

These so-called Sifrei are produced by a silk screening process where each amudah (column) of text is printed onto qlaf (parchment) by pouring ink into a wooden-framed silk screen & squeegeed through the cut-out shapes of Hebrew letters. This presents a number of Halakhic problems, including:

1) the ink used for printing is not d'yo (sofrut ink), the only ink kosher for st"m
2) each word is not individually read & pronounced from a Tiqun L'Sofrim (sofer's layout book)
3) none of G@d's names can be verbally sanctified before they are pronounced & written
4) printing lacks any intention of qedushah (holiness)

A colleague of mine in the UK, Marc Michaels, aka Mordechai Pinchas (psst! Ladies, he'll teach you...), tells me of his friend "A", a sofer st"m in London who can deliver as Sefer Torah in 6 months, but, [note: the definitions in brackets are mine]:

"...As you know I'm particularly concerned at the need to sacrifice quality of writing and kavannah (appropriate concious intention) for the harsh economic truths of meeting deadlines and the fact that most sofrim get paid quite badly in comparison to other trades - Yerachmiel Asmotsky has a great section at the start of his newish book where he says that people are prepared to pay for electricians, plumbers, solictors at exorbitant rates but not for a sofer! - and draws inferences as to what society values.
Fundamentally if you are going to be mehudar (meticulous observer/strictly orthodox/finest of the fine) - you can only write slowly forming the letters carefully and with taggin (crowns) as you go as opposed to affixing them later... "

Another esteemed sofer, who shall remain nameless for the purposes of this article, shared his professional opinion of these pasul Torahs:
"...between me and you, i think these guys are a bunch of bozos who have no idea what the f*@! they're doing.
(actually i think they do know what the'yre doing- making money)"

Let's face it, we're living in a ravenous culture.

& if the above two sofrim don't work for you, the Chairman of the Vaad Mishmeres Stam of the U.S. and Canada, Rabbi Dovid L. Greenfield, asked HaRav Ben Tzion Yaakov Halevi Wosner, head of the Shevet Halevi Beis Din and Beis Horo'oh in Monsey (and the son of HaRav Shmuel Wosner of Bnei Brak) for his opinion. The Shevet Halevi's teshuvoh was explicit and unequivocal:

"It is clearly prohibited and constitutes uprooting a Torah commandment. It is not considered to be writing a Sefer Torah at all . . . It is absolutely prohibited and is a complete sin, and it is forbidden to produce them and thereby cause others to sin. In truth, it is even difficult to believe that it would occur to anyone who has smelt the fragrance of Torah to place such a stumbling block in front of the public, and it (is) a mitzva to prevent this and stand in the breach."

I learned RAMAK (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero) with Rabbi Dov Lehman in Yerushalayim & from the Sefer Pardes HaRimonim (The Book of the Pomegranate Grove) we understand that each letter has its own personality, its own presence in Creation. This is why we must name each letter as we write Sifrei from our Tiqun.

The rabbonim who commented in & authored this piece think this unnamed Posek is playing fast & loose with the Halakhah of sofrut. To exploit a marketplace that only requires a hekasher on a product - not kavanah. All the market cares about is the dollar value of an item, so the yirat shamayim (awe of Heaven) is lost from the tradition, which is an essential component of the qedusha (unique sanctity) of each article.

DO most Jews know that a Torah must be manufactured by human hands, their voices declaring their holy intention, from start to finish? Will Jews continue to pay a premium to employ these skilled religious artisans?

There is a negiyah between this rav & his practice, as he poskins on his own mode of business. It seems he is simply advancing his own personal agenda.

Although to the untrained eye these scrolls closely resemble authentic Sifrei Torah, they are in fact no more kosher for public use than a chumash. What is a Sefer Torah without its Qedushat HaShem? A chumash. A very expensive chumash.

They should label these scrolls as chumashim so those who purchase them do not end up saying blessings on them & thereby taking G@d's name in vain (that would be Commandment #3), just as I label my Sifrei Torah so there is no question who wrote them. This allows Jews to make an informed choice based on their own conscience what sort of Sefer Torah to purchase.

If you want words of Torah in your home, buy a chumash. The Rosh - Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel - teaches us that purchasing a printed chumash is equivalent to fulfilling the mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah. So go to town.

Only a human with high intention can infuse an act or an object with holiness. That is our function on Earth. We need to keep sofrut from becoming a Henry Ford type assembly line mass produced industry, & keep it as a holy craft given the attention & love it so richly deserves.

For more in-depth Halakhic references, take a gander at this.

May 4th Update: the names of the sofrim below have been obscured to protect their privacy

Dear Aviel - this was the chain of communications from the group (shame you can't join up but I do't know what the others would make of you as they are rather traditional...)
You have to kind of read it in reverse from the bottom up.
All the best,  M
This is an old story. The consensus of the poskim (across the board--
from Rav Wosner to Rav Hershel Shechter) is that it should not be done
(with piskei halacha ranging from "asur gamur" to "not a good idea").
The only people who seem to be in favor of silkscreening are the people
who are involved in it.
It does not pay to debate the issue w/ them.


Dear B,
This is an already old issue and the leading Poskim in Jerusalem have come out against the process. Please contact the Poskim for details.
Sofer and Magiah

  ----- Original Message -----
 Dear B - the whole thing of printing is covered in the 613th Commandment book.  Basically this is a rather worrying development as this is not writing, nor can you have the kavanah - nor can the letters of Hashem's names be written in sequence - instead they are written simultaneously.  You could potentially leave aps and fill them in later.  I will have a quick refresh of the arguments in the book. Printing sifrey torah has happened before, but it was wholly rejected.  K'sidran for mezuzot and tefillin obviously goes out of the window.
I looked at the letter forms from the megillah they have prepared - quite horrible computer generated text - they could have at least taken a hand written scroll by a master sofer and turned that into the image and the silk screen.  Still hopefully people will be able to identify these when they try to flood the market with cheap scrolls and those congregations who value the work of a sofer will not buy.
Not quite sure what they mean when they say 'all writing will be done by a prominent Rabbi and Sofer' - what writing?

Subject: Silk screening/printing sifrey torah

I've checked the discussion in J Simcha Cohen's 613th Commandment, chapter 6. 
Fundamentally the basic problem is k'dushat hashem and that the letters need to be written sequentially.  There is also an argument that simultaneous 'writing' may be a violation of sequential patterns of letters and any form of printing formalises the Torah into words thuis losing an element of the potency of the process as it no longer permits a variety of combinations and associations to be made during the process of writing.  Thus this jeopardises k'dushat sefer torah too.  And thus printed ones do not have the same status.
He also brings the example of previous printing which was similar to the silk screen proces (ie not like modern printing) and the Mas'at Binyamin (responsum 99) which he did accord the same kedusha as writing, but the Aruch Hashulchan disagreed - but largely because the printing process had changed.  My guess is that these Rabbis are looking back to the Mas'at Binyamin as their authority.
I would have thought that the main proof text would have come in the u'ktav'tam - and you will write them as this is the defining principle.  Would be interested in what others have to say about this.
 From: B
  To: @
  Sent: Monday, March 28, 2005 9:57 AM
  Subject: [soferstam] Al d'mi lachem

  I recently came across the very surprising website of Rabbis Abadi and Tessler. They are apparently preparing a process whereby they will produce torahs, megillot, mezuzot, etc., by silkscreen...

  ...What about kedushat HaShem and kesidran with regards to mezuzot, if this is an instantaneous process producing four amudim at a time?

Monday, May 02, 2005



The Holy One speaks in three ways to us:
1) Directly, as with Moshe Rabeynu
2) Through a messenger - an angel, for example
3) Continuously to all humankind & all Creation through intuition, urges, dreams & inspiration from within

The rain is all the same water from G@d. The sweetness of the fruit is the heart of the Prophet.

That's you.

Sunday, May 01, 2005



Thank you to Morey & Alissa, with whom we just went out for beers, for this witty & apropo expression. The Sleeman's Honey Brown draft at The Jolly Alderman was cold, crisp & tasty, & a good time was had by all...



My Peasch this year loosely consisted of the following:
Saturday - disoriented from the lack of sleep & unending physical labour - imagine 200 years of it! First night Seder was at the shul. It was fun! R' Schachar lead a happymaking Seder in his kittel. We all crowded into the chairs, chockerblock against the tables. I sat between Joel & Meira, our Rebbetzin, & across from one of our more funky South Africans. Our crowd included many colourful characters, no cursing the goyim, not even opening the door, but releasing nonethless :)

Sunday - all a blur - shul, sleep, stroll. Please forgive me, but I have issues with the double chagim we must celebrate in galut. I find the 2nd seder is totally annoying & anticlimactic, so I always make sure it is at a different place with different people (well, except Joel..., but whatever. At least the turkey was great, the purim rap, G@d writes straight with crooked lines...

Monday shul...politics - apparently we can't even get through a whole chag without starting in on the evil machinations going on in our synagogue, which frankly people should just leave at home '+>

During the chol I gardened, mended clothing...

Friday erev Shabbes/chag we spent part of the aftenoon at Spanish Banks. We just sat on a log under a tree & took in the sunshine, watching people enjoying picnics, sailing, volleyball, the beautiful view, barges, light breeze, dogs, joggers...

We picked up copious fruit & veggies at Capers, including beeswax candles for chag & Shabbes & yizkor for my poor Dad, z"l.
Rushed to get ready for chag then shared dinner with R' Schachar & Meira.
We had an extremely long service in the a.m.
After lunch I read Jewish Views of the Afterlife by Simcha Paull Raphael. Fascinating.
Walked the sea wall - very pensive. Searching.
I ended the holiday as I played Othello by myself - I'm always black...& I always win.

Count that Omer & pray for Revelation.

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