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.

Saturday, September 30, 2006



ח אַרְיֵה שָׁאָג, מִי לֹא יִירָא; אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה דִּבֶּר, מִי לֹא יִנָּבֵא.
Aryeh sha'ag, mi lo yirah; Ad@nai Y-H-V-H diber, mi lo yinavey
"The lion has roared, who will not fear? The L@rd G@D has spoken, who can but prophesy?"
Amos 3:8

R' Nechemiyah used to say, "They who converted to Judaism because of lions...are not deemed proselytes unless they are ready to be converted again..."
This great sage is referring to the Samaritans, who became Jewish after being visited by lions, because their coming was a manifestation of Divine Wrath. But only love of Torah can move people to truly become Jews.

כד וַיָּבֵא מֶלֶךְ-אַשּׁוּר מִבָּבֶל וּמִכּוּתָה וּמֵעַוָּא וּמֵחֲמָת, וּסְפַרְוַיִם, וַיֹּשֶׁב בְּעָרֵי שֹׁמְרוֹן, תַּחַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיִּרְשׁוּ, אֶת-שֹׁמְרוֹן, וַיֵּשְׁבוּ, בְּעָרֶיהָ. 24
"& the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, & from Kuthah, & from Avva, & from Chamath & Sefarva'im, & put them in the cities of Samaria (Shomron) instead of the children of Israel; & they possessed Samaria, & lived in its cities."

כה וַיְהִי, בִּתְחִלַּת שִׁבְתָּם שָׁם, לֹא יָרְאוּ, אֶת-יְהוָה; וַיְשַׁלַּח יְהוָה בָּהֶם אֶת-הָאֲרָיוֹת, וַיִּהְיוּ הֹרְגִים בָּהֶם. 25
"& so it was, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the L@RD; therefore the L@RD sent lions among them, which killed some of them."

כו וַיֹּאמְרוּ, לְמֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר לֵאמֹר, הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר הִגְלִיתָ וַתּוֹשֶׁב בְּעָרֵי שֹׁמְרוֹן, לֹא יָדְעוּ, אֶת-מִשְׁפַּט אֱלֹהֵי הָאָרֶץ; וַיְשַׁלַּח-בָּם אֶת-הָאֲרָיוֹת, וְהִנָּם מְמִיתִים אוֹתָם, כַּאֲשֶׁר אֵינָם יֹדְעִים, אֶת-מִשְׁפַּט אֱלֹהֵי הָאָרֶץ. 26
"So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying: 'The nations (Israel) which you have carried away, and placed in the cities of Samaria, don't know the manner of the G@d of the land; so He has sent lions among them, & look, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the G@d of the land.'
2 Kings/Melekhim 17:24-26

The Hebrew word for lion is אריה aryeh. Spelled Alef, Reysh, Yud, Hey.
This is an acronym.

The letter Alef stands for the month of אלול Elul, which begins with Alef. The Reysh represents ראש השנה Rosh Hashanah, Yud stands for יום כפור Yom Kippur, & the Hey represents הושנה רבה Hoshanah Rabah.

This is the time of Divine judgment, the Yamim Nora'im, days of awe. If we allow ourselves to hear the roar, G@d will wake us up to repentance so we can prepare to gently turn what is ready to be moved. In this way we inspire the Holy One to transform Divine judgement to Divine compassion.

I'm off to the miqveh now, for the annual pre-Yom Kipur women's gathering. Many blessings to you for an easy transformation.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, September 28, 2006



The letter Yud has a numerical value of 10. Ten fingers, ten toes, ten commandments & with ten utterances Ha-Shem created the universe; ten emanations - "eser Sefirot" - of the Eitz Chayim, the Tree of Life in Kabbalah, from conception to completion...

Yud is the building block of the Alefbet, each letter in fact being made up of a series of Yuds. The seed, the sperm, the primordial force initiating the flow of life. The catalyst.

Yad, hand, indicates a means of action. Agency. The universe is set in motion by the movement of the Yad Chazaqah - the strong hand of G@D - being the symbol of creative and directive energy.

The Zohar (Vayikra 147) explains that Yud consists of three parts: a point rising upwards to the One above, a point directed downwards to earth and the middle part uniting both. The shape of the Yud is symbolic of a person in prayer. Our eyes are lowered in humility as we stand before the Holy One, while our hearts are turned upward, toward heaven (Yevamot 105b). All three parts of the Yud are of equal importance Halakhically. The Talmud notes that it is "obvious [peshita]" that a mezuzah klaf or Torah scroll is invalid if it lacks even a "qotzo shel Yud", the point of the Yud (Menachot 29a; Rashi).

& with all this in mind...

In this week's Parsha for Shabbat Tshuvah, Ha'azinu/Deuteronomy 32:18, there's a small Yud in in the word teshi - unmindful.

יח צוּר יְלָדְךָ, תֶּשִׁי; וַתִּשְׁכַּח, אֵל מְחֹלְלֶךָ.
"The Rock that birthed you, you neglected/were unmindful of, you forgot the G@D that produced-you-in-labour:"

This tiny Yud was listed in Midrash Rabbah Aqim as one of the letter oddities which must be written into a Sefer Torah for it to be considered kosher for ritual use.
R' Chayim David HaLevy, who is a Kabbalist rabbi I quote often, wrote that a letter written in miniscule indicates that a person or people in the narrative have somehow missed the mark; that they could have done better.

Among the many gifts that Ha-Shem has given us is the power of shikhah — forgetfulness. Moshe Rabeynu said this to us right before he died. This is the last sheet of parchment in the Torah, people. Our problem is that vatishkach Keil mecholelekha — we're using our power of forgetfulness to neglect Ha-Shem, Who gives us each breath straight from Divine compassion. Is that any way to act?

It's so hard to be human. & G@d knows just what a hard job we have. That's why we got Torah. But if we forget, then our agency, our yad, is diminished. So here we have a small Yud to remind us...not to forget :)

May we all be blessed with consciousness enough to become good humans this year.

Cross-posted at Radical Torah .

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 26, 2006



Further to my fasting for peace, I received this in my e-mail. Although I'm not affiliated with Jewish Renewal, I respect & support their efforts to improve the world we're in. This is an example & I wish them well with it:

The Rodef Shalom School for Peace Joins ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal

A week after the 5th anniversary of the September 11 tragedy, the ALEPH Board unanimously and joyfully welcomed the Rodef Shalom School for Peace as one of its projects. The School is designed as a three-year training program with the potential for ordination as a Rodef Shalom/Pursuer of Peace, after successful completion of course requirements.

³It is said that a nation cannot simultaneously prepare for war and build peace,² ALEPH Executive Director Debra Kolodny mused. ³ALEPH is delighted to partner with Rodef Shalom, whose directors have been intentionally, systematically and quite effectively waging peace for years. Rodef Shalom is a much-needed part of the Jewish peace building landscape, and an important part of Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi¹s legacy. It will help ALEPH continue our commitment to inter-religious work, embodied by The Shalom Center (now a separate, sister organization) and the Sacred Foods Project. We are honored to be working with Eliyahu McClean and Ruth Broyde Sharon, masters both.²

Rodef Shalom plans to train 20 Jewish community and religious activists in its first class. Participants will learn specific techniques and models enabling them to: organize and facilitate dialogue; integrate the arts in interfaith community activities; study sources from the Jewish tradition that support a universal, peace point of view; and grapple with problematic
texts about the 'other.'

Eager to address the fierce tensions caused by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Eliyahu McLean, one of the foremost inter-religious peace builders in Israel, and documentary filmmaker Ruth Broyde-Sharone, an international speaker and interfaith activist from Los Angeles, who teaches "The Art of Interfaith," launched the Rodef Shalom/Peacebuilding Training program at
Elat Chayyim this summer. They co-taught ³Peacebuilding As an Art & Practice,² the first in a series of trainings that will aid Jewish religious and community leaders seeking tools to respond to current interfaith conflicts and to build constructive relationships with people of other faiths, especially in Muslim communities.

The inspiration for this program came from Reb Zalman Schacter-Shalomi in 2003 when he initiated and ordained Eliyahu McLean, as the first Rodef Shalom/Pursuer of Peace, and charged Eliyahu with the mission of creating a network of Jewish peace workers around the world. Eliyahu, in turn, ordained Ruth Broyde-Sharone as the first woman "Rodefet Shalom" this summer at Elat Chayyim. The Rodef Shalom Training Program, now officially affiliated with ALEPH, will also encourage Jewish peace builders to become a spiritual community for one other.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 25, 2006



I find this really upsetting.

For 2 years in a row, the Jewish month of Tishrei has coincided with the Muslim month of Ramadan & their respective extra-special holy activities. & we spent the 3 weeks (& then some) fighting each other. I really believe that G@d is giving us - handing to us on a silver platter - an obvious opportunity to turn the world around, make things right toghether.

I have a tremendous reverence for Ha-Rav Ha-Ga'on Avraham Yitzchaq Ha-Kohen Kook. His protest-response mentioned in the above article is to be admired, I think, & imitated.

So although today was the fast of Gedalyah, I've decided, in light of the tensions in the Middle East, to continue fasting during the daylight hours until Yom Kipur (with the exception of Shabbes & Yom Kipur Eve, as my rabbi maintains that we're not allowed to fast on those days). I want to draw attention to the fact that Jews don't have to just square up with each other during these Days of Awe, we have to connect in truth & peace with the non-Jews in our lives as well.

Let's pool our money, time, kindness, ideas, talents & skills to do more of this & this for people in need this year & every year until the Messiah comes.

G'mar chatimah tovah

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 24, 2006

HAPPY 5767!


A while back, the dude at ChaiSpace asked me to design a font for him that would be for use by MySpace users & all over the net. So I rose to the occasion - an honour is, after all, an honour. Here's the first half (in rough):
Qeset Ha-Soferet font 1

& here's the second (again, it's rough - a few imperfections here & there):
Qeset Ha-Soferet font 2

I call it "Qeset Ha-Soferet", which means Inkwell of the Soferet. I've named it after my fave volume of Sofrut Halakhah (scribal laws).

...& this is what it looks like as a ChaiSpace greeting:
Jewish stuff at ChaiSpace!

Shiny, isn't it?
It also comes in gold without the glitter, here.

It's been such a thrill to get comments & e-mails at my MySpace page wishing me a good & sweet & blessed New Year in my own font!

Much gratitude to Brian (& G@D) at ChaiSpace for his idea & hard work, & for letting me know about all the positive feedback Qeset Ha-Soferet has garnered.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 22, 2006



I admit that my whole life I've wanted to work hard, protect people, save the weak & provide sanctuary to those who've been ill-treated. All rolled into a skin of perfectionism & baked to a golden brown. But apparently, that's a stressful way of being in the world because it's impossible to achieve.

Today I had the opportunity to help someone I did not know & thank G@d.

I wandered into a store, browsing for something nice to treat myself to for my birthday. It was a sweet little specialty tea shop, with real teapots from Japan & such fragrant brews. I wasn't paying attention to what was happening to the back of the store. Until the shouting started.

There was a man yelling at the lady behind the counter. He was insisting that she give him money. He was small & dirty & wore grubby clothes. He carried a squeegee.

I listened. He had washed the outside of her display window without asking her permission, & then come in to pressure her to pay him. I felt bad for him, because he was probably homeless & trying to earn a living. Until I heard her tell him that this was the third time he'd done this & that he had to ask her first. That it was unfair for him to demand money without making an agreement in advance.

But he just kept yelling over her. I started watching them, because her voice got higher & smaller & he kept interrupting her. She was having a hard time keeping up with him because her English wasn't so great & he kept shouting over her. She said she'd call her husband & ask.

She spoke with her husband on the phone in Chinese & then put the phone back on the hook. She asked him to come back another time to speak to her husband, that her husband didn't want her to give him anything but that he could speak with him when he was in the store.

The squeegee man started to threaten her. Disgusting, unspeakable threats. Like I wasn't even there. So I walked over to the counter & stood by the lady - who had by now said over & over, "I'm very afraid of you & I would like you to please leave my store" - so he could see that I was there witnessing. I wanted to do more, but I couldn't get a read on this guy & for all I knew he was hopped-up on drugs or armed (a squeegee can do a lot of damage).

"Yeah, well, you should be afraid" he said. She was fighting back her tears, "My husband is coming soon". But once he woke up to my presence, he began to retreat, hurling threats & curses, telling her he'd be back & that she'd be really sorry.

Ugh. This poor lady just broke down, so selfconcious that she was crying in front of a strange customer. "Are you ok?" I asked. She nodded. It wasn't true. She was weeping over her Bible, her small gold cross pendant shuddering along with her fearful breaths. "Are you always in here alone?" Yes. "You can't let him keep coming in here & treating you like this. He has no right to threaten you. Would you like to call the police?"

She called her husband again & I waited. She asked me to call the police for her because she wasn't confident with her English. So I did. At least open a file, I thought. I get that the squeegee man was desperate for cash, but this poor woman shouldn't keep being terrorized. I walked outside & scanned for him on the street. He was in the next block washing another store window. So I gave a description & described the event. Not much else to do, really.

She thanked me profusely, but really, I didn't do anything more than any other strange customer would have. I tried to buy an adorable little bamboo spoon from her (I wanted to cheer her up by buying something & I happen to like the cultural/home-building/commitment symbolism of handmade spoons), but she wouldn't let me.

"I don't want to take any money for this". Ach!
"But I want to pay you - I didn't pick this out hoping that you'd just give it to me for free because I helped."
She put it in a little gold bag for me, & smiled for the first time. "I know. I know your mind. But I also know my mind." She held it out to me.
I smiled, "Thank you - it's my birthday..."
"Oh! Very Happy Birthday! You are such a kind & nice lady & so beautiful..." she trailed off into tears again.

Good thing I didn't try to buy one of those cool $75 Japanese teapots.

"Can I do anything else for you?"
"Is your husband coming soon?"
I offered to leave my phone number in case the police wanted to speak further with me. Probably not, but who knows. She enthusiastically accepted. I offered to stay with her until her husband arrived, as it was obvious she was still scared. She said I could go, that it was alright. I just wish I could have done more for her.

Suffering begets suffering. If the squeegee man hadn't been abused or fallen on hard times, he wouldn't have behaved that way toward the teashop lady. It's so hard to be a person, to act rightly when we are in a state of lack. But we have to. G@d requires that of us. Thankfully, G@d is also compassionate.

Shabbat Shalom, Shanah Tovah u-metuqah, ve-g'mar tov.
Sabbath peace, a great & sweet New Year, & may we all be sealed for a good year, whether we are squeegee men or teashop ladies, or somewhere in between.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, September 21, 2006



Last night's celebration of my birth looked like this:
Soferet Birthday Cake!

My deep gratitude goes to the Lev family for their very kind & loving treatment of me :)
This morning I slept in for the first time in months. Between teaching in Israel during a war, my mother's various health concerns, trying to catch up on different sofrut projects, & racing around North America trying to kasher as many Sifrei Torah as possible before the Days of Awe, my days have been over-filled.

Then I got my first-ever acupuncture treatment. It definitely shifted me to a better space. G@d is great.

On my way to the train, I got to hang out with Jack Thompson, Super rock-god of the parchment & ink conservation world. I've been learning from his articles for years & our mutual friend Yehuda Miklaf, Super rock-god of the bookbinding & restoration world, encouraged me to get together with Jack. He came by P'nai Or when I was repairing their Sefer Torah & gave it a once-over. I was so appreciative! & really felt priviledged that he would come check out my work. I mean to say, this man is so widely & well respected that they actually invited him to work on the Dead Sea Scrolls!

Jack & I nerded out in his consevation lab with all sorts of ink & skins & tools. I adore him & his calm, methodical, fatherly approach to repair. There's so much I could learn & I'm looking forward to some kind of apprenticeship with him. G@d (& Jack) willing.

You may think that I'm name-dropping here, but I'm not.
You want an example of name-dropping? Bob Dylan's mom's rabbi is being honoured with a library in his name - while he's still alive & active, yet - & Dylan is buying the set of Talmud to be dedicated to his mom's rabbi in this library. I've been asked to design the bookplate.

That is name-dropping ;)

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 20, 2006



This week in Portland with the P'nai Or community has been a real gift. I love them, they love me, I have kashered their Torah, G@d is good.

It's such an honour to be asked to fix a Holy Scroll. After all, aside from a Jewish community's children, their Sefer Torah is their most precious posession. & the folks at P'nai Or love their Torah. So much. It's beautiful.

Speaking of precious children:
This is me with my new favorite friend in Portland. His name is Shalem Lev & he's 4.
 Shalem Lev Helping Soferet Fix Sefer Torah

This is R' Aryeh Hirschfield repairing the last letter Yud in va-yehi or, "& there was light" (B'reyshit/Genesis).
Rabbi Aryeh Hirschfield completing Mitzvah with Soferet
He doesn't really need me there to spot him. I'm just there for dramatic effect ;)

As I'm blessed with many opportunities to perform the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah (because by correcting even only one letter to fix a Torah, you are considered to have written the whole thing), I am happy to share with others. In each community I serve, I offer the rabbi the last letter, so he can have the mitzvah :)

My Hebrew birthday is Rosh Ha-Shanah, & as I'll be tucked away back in Vancouver as of tomorrow, my hosts & new friends here are throwing me a "Happy Birthday & Thank You for Restoring Our Torah" shin-dig. Just a little one. So good night, I'm off to enjoy good kosher vegan carrot cake, good kosher mead, & above all, good kosher company :D

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 16, 2006



I'm in Portland, healing a sick Sefer Torah & staying with some very special people. I was on my way to shul this morning to give over this drush, but I fell down the stairs & the concensus between the adults in the household was that I should not walk on my injured leg. So I never had the opportunity to share this with the community I wrote it for, but you can read it below:

Soferet's Large Letter Lamed

There is an enlarged letter Lamed in this week’s Parsha, Nitzavim, in Devarim/Deuteronomy 29:27.

וַיִּתְּשֵׁם יְהוָה מֵעַל אַדְמָתָם, בְּאַף וּבְחֵמָה וּבְקֶצֶף גָּדוֹל; וַיַּשְׁלִכֵם אֶל-אֶרֶץ אַחֶרֶת, כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה.

“Vayit’sheym Y-H-V-H mey’al adematam b’af uv-cheymah uv-qetzef gadol va-yash’Likheym el-eretz acheret kayom hazeh:”

“So Y-H-V-H uprooted them from their soil in anger, & wrath, & great fury, and cast them into another land, as is to this day:”

The word in which this enlarged Lamed appears - “va-yash’Likheym” (& cast them) - is from the same shoresh/root as “tashlikh” - to throw out or away; exile. Like what we do with bread crumbs on the afternoon of first day Rosh Ha-Shanah (when it’s not Shabbes, like this year - then we save it for second day), & symbolically to our sins, contracted spaces & narrowness which needs healing.

Context: Devarim 29:21 reads, “A future generation, consisting of your descendants, who rise up after you, along with the foreigner from a distant land, shall see the punishment directed against that land (Israel), & the plague with which G@d has struck it… ”

Followed by 29:23, “All the nations will ask, ‘Why did G@d do this to the land? What was the reason for this great display of anger?’”

Then 29:24, “They shall answer, ‘It is because they (the Jews) abandoned the covenant that G@d, L@rd of their ancestors, made with them when He brought them out of Egypt.’”

The verse immediately following, 29:28, says,

הַנִּסְתָּרֹת–לַיהוָה, אֱלֹהֵינוּ; וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ, עַד-עוֹלָם–לַעֲשׂוֹת, אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת.
“Ha-nistarot (Esther/Nestor/Nistar/Astoroth) la-Y-H-V-H Eloqeynu ve-ha-nig’lot lanu u-le-vaneynu ad-olam…”

“The concealed is for G@d our L@rd, & the revealed is for us & for our children forever. We must therefore keep all the words of this Torah.”
So… why the letter Lamed? The pictographic shape of Lamed is that of a goad - that’s an instrument with which we coax animals to go in the direction we want, rather than the direction that they want. Sort of a non-electric cattle prod.

The Shoresh/root is the same as that of talmud/limmud/learn/teach. So here we have “a big teaching”, as my friend Chaim Rothschild Lev yesterday said to me about this.

R’ Chayim Dovid Ha-Levy, z”l, the former Chief Sefardi Rabbi of Tel Aviv, was a great scholar, posek & Kabbalist. He said that anytime we see an enlarged letter in our writings, that is a place where G@d takes over the direction. That Ha-Shem steps out of the status quo & is proactive about something. Example: the enlarged letter Bet which begins the Torah. B’Reyshit bara Eloqim…

So here we see that Ha-Shem is goading us away from the direction we would choose to go & instead take the path which G@d wants for us.

Talmud Bavli Yoma 29a tells us that there are 22 saintly women in our history, each with a quality which represents a letter of the Hebrew alefbet. The letter Lamed is the symbol of Devorah (Haftarah Beshallach = Judges 4:4-5:31). Who was Devorah? She was named after Rivqah’s wet nurse, who died at the same time as Rivqa (B’reyshit/Genesis 35:8 Parshat Va-yishlakh) & was buried in that area. & what did Devorah do? She judged for us & decided questions of law for the whole nation - a posek, or poseket. She was considered to have been a vessel for the ru’ach nevu’ah/spirit of prophesy. She also goaded Baraq - who was commanded by G@d to go to war with Sisera. Ha-Shem guaranteed Baraq would be victorious & yet he, feeling unworthy of such a miracle, refused to go to war unless Devorah accompanied him. Baraq felt that only her merit would guarantee his success. Devorah’s response: “I will go with you, but the path you have chosen to go will not be for your glory. Ha-Shem will deliver Sisera into the hand of a woman.” In Devorah’s song, Judges 5:1 - 31, she sings of how when the people of Israel devote themselves to Ha-Shem, they travel safely, the land blossoms & there is no war made against us. But when we forget G@d, we experience calamity.

This enlarged Lamed prophesies the coming of Devorah ha-Neviyah. Just to remind us about being very careful of the path that we choose.

Shabbat Shalom

Cross-posted at Radical Torah.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 08, 2006



Today I was lucky enough to have all the Hebrew pre-schoolers visit me while I worked at healing this Sefer Torah. They were so yummy, those little kids!

Also, some of the older elementary students spent time asking questions & were very patient while I turned this:
Soferet's pre-correction

Into this:
Soferet's post-correction
(again, please excuse my poor photography - in person, the ink is a uniform matte black colour)

You know, it occurred to me today after I spent time with all these bright Jewish children, that each Sefer Torah is dead skin written on with a shed feather & boiled tree bits mixed with ash. But TORAH is alive! Living, breathing, in each of us. That's why the Living Torah from Ha-Shem commands us to teach it to our children so that they never depart from it. She is a Tree of Life...

The remainder of the programming I'll be sharing with Congregation B'nai Amoona:

Saturday, Sept 9 following kiddush lunch - "Sacred Art of Torah Calligraphy"
Following Kiddush, Soferet Avielah Barclay will introduce us to the art, craft & Laws of Torah writing.

Saturday, Sept 9 6pm - "Kabbalah of the Hebrew Alef-Bet"
Soferet Avielah Barclay will guide us in our exploration of the deep mysteries associated with the Alef-Bet.

Sunday, Sept 10 10am - "In the Scribe's Workshop"
Learn about Hebrew calligraphy from Soferet Avielah Barclay, & personally participate in the repair of some of our Sacred Torah Scrolls under her tutelage at our Membership Fair.

324 South Mason Rd
St Louis, MO
MapQuest link

Have a beautiful Shabbes!

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, September 07, 2006



I received this in my MySpace inbox:

Wow, I just hope she knows not to do it during her cycle when she's going through mood swings. (Eze 36:17) Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt on their land, they even defiled it by their ways and by their doings. As the defilement of woman's impurity, their way was before Me. Something to keep in mind when doing things of holiness. Yah bless.

& this is the answer to that non-question: I've been coming here every morning...
Soferet @ the St Louis Miqveh
(Community miqveh at the JCC in St Louis)

before I go here:
Soferet's St Louis workspace
(Conference room at B'nai Amoona, where I've been restoring Torahs)

One of my fave odd letters in the Sefer Torah:
Soferet's Gachon
Parshat Shmini/Sefer Va-yiqra (Leviticus) 11:42 – large Vav in the word gachOn, belly.

כֹּל הוֹלֵךְ עַל-גָּחוֹן וְכֹל הוֹלֵךְ עַל-אַרְבַּע, עַד כָּל-מַרְבֵּה רַגְלַיִם, לְכָל-הַשֶּׁרֶץ, הַשֹּׁרֵץ עַל-הָאָרֶץ--לֹא תֹאכְלוּם, כִּי-שֶׁקֶץ הֵם.
"Kol holeykh al-gachon v'khol holeykh al-arba ad kal-marbeyh raglim l'khal-hasheretz hashoreytz al-ha'aretz lo tokh'lum ki-sheqetz heym:"
"Anything going about on its belly, anything going about on all fours, up to anything with many legs, among all swarming-creatures that swarm upon the earth: you are not to eat them, for they are detestable-things!:"

Vav has the numerical value of 6. The Maharal teaches us that the number six indicates physical completion: as our world was finished in six days and as each individual object has six sides: above, below, right, left, front and back.

Vav is a conjunction, a link. He comes to us in the shape of a hook, which is the function he fulfills and what his name means. The presence of Vav at the beginning of a verse in the Torah indicates continuity with the previous text ("V'eyleh sh'mot b'nai Yisra'el..." - "And these are the names of the children of Israel..."). Vav's absence means we are beginning a new subject. Vav has the power to unite anything.

This is, according to midrash, the middle letter of the Sefer Torah, & it has been written large like this since the 3rd century, CE.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 06, 2006



Lending a little TLC to a Sefer Torah...

How I found it:
Soferet's Anokhi Before

How I left it:
Soferet's Anokhi After
(for some reason, the highlights on the brand new ink look sort of like white spots where I didn't fill in properly - but I assure you that it's really just because my photography is amateurish)

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Tuesday, September 05, 2006



Thank G@d, my trip to St Louis was uneventful & I landed safe & sound in the arms of B'nai Amoona. I had the honour of sharing dinner with R' Dr Neal Rose & Max & Susan Brown tonight, then dropped off at my host family's home. They're totally lovely & I can see I'll be very well taken care of on this trip, barukh Ha-Shem.

I'm really looking forward to restoring their precious Sifrei this week, IY"H. & I learned so much more in Israel about kosher Torah repair - SO excited to apply my new techniques!

Other than the above (which is great), this is not a happy post.

This is a really odd time, information-wise. A strange article appeared in St Louis Today last week, with quite a few inaccuracies. It's not really surprising, since the reporter called my mother at home in her sick bed & interviewed her, but did not contact me.
I e-mailed the editor, offering corrections & mentioned how weird all this was, since I'm ALL OVER the internet & easy to e-mail. I also thought it was kind of creepy that he would hunt my Mum down at all. Mr Editor has not responded.

& the person who I mentioned in this post is also talking me down on Jewschool.

I'm very concerned about the narrowing of Halakhic Judaism. Very concerned.
To use oppresive Halakhah in an attempt to curb women's lives is an abuse of power. By stemming social change, those in authority are ignoring derekh eretz ("the way of the land", ie common civil rights taken for granted in countries such as Canada) as well as the valid expression of women's relationship with G@d. Women should be able to choose the extent to which we are willing to engage in the public sphere, choose our work, whether we marry, have children & men should not have a veto. Don't use Torah to rationalize un-Jewish treatment of others. You have an obligation to pursue justice. Don't exclude the perspective of those outside your very closed circle. Are you willing to risk cutting half of all Jewry off from our drawing closer to The Holy One through the fulfillment of mitzvot?

OK, that's today's rant.
Thanks for reading!

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Monday, September 04, 2006



I finally had a day to relax today, between teaching at Pardes in Israel, helping refugees from the war, rushing back to Victoria to help take care of my Mum after her accident, try to catch up on the bazillions of e-mails & phone messages, arrange my teaching & sofrut engagements for the Autumn, &, &, &...

So I went to the Day of Jewish Unity with some friends. It was beautiful. Hundreds of Jews & their kids & dogs out in the fresh air & sunshine by the river on Labour Day. Gorgeous!

I even took a "test your Jewish IQ" quiz & got 100%, so I won an Vancouver NCSY hoodie.

I will be teaching, speaking & restoring Torah scrolls at Congregation Bnai Amoona in St Louis, Missouri, as of tomorrow.

This lovely community's P.R. for my visit includes this:
Thursday, Sept 7 11:30am - 1:30pm - "Soferet: Woman as Sacred Scribe"
Soferet Avielah Barclay will share her journey to become the world's only certified female Hebrew scribe & the first woman to write Jewish sacred scrolls in over 200 years.

324 South Mason Rd
MapQuest link

Aviel's Torah

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Saturday, September 02, 2006



I want to publicly thank Leah J for mentioning me on her blog. She deserves a big kol ha-kavod for her strong writing & passion for consciously engaging in her Judaism.

On other blogging notes, I've just jazzed up my Flickr photo page, Blogger profile, & MySpace site

Let me know what you think, y'all - constructive crits are welcome!

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Friday, September 01, 2006



- See a tv commercial from Canadian Blood Services (a.k.a the Canadian Red Cross) begging for blood & marrow donations

- feel obligated in the mitzvah of helping to save & preserve life

- call CBS regarding blood & marrow donation & wait on hold until Hell freezes over

- walk to CBS

- wait

- sit with reception until ID & data are fully entered into the computer

- fill out extremely long & detailed donation form with surprising questions (like Did you spend more than a total of 12 weeks in the UK between 1977 & 1990?)

- wait

- bring form & ID for blood pressure test & haemoglobin assessment

- take a number

- wait

- follow an R.N. into a small room for a private interview

- be permanently rejected (CBS calls this "deferral") over a medical misunderstanding, despite going to great lengths to be very clear that there is actually no problem

- walk home very disappointed that no mitzvah was accomplished

- make multiple phone calls to various CBS offices & wait until Hell freezes over

- call doctor

- doctor visit: confirm that blood is perfectly fine & that the CBS nurse just freaked out

- letter requested to make paper trail en route to having blood deemed acceptable again

- call CBS regarding re-instatement & wait on hold until Hell freezes over

- walk to CBS with doctor's letter with intention of donating blood & joining the bone marrow registry

- wait at reception while nobody can find anyone to meet & accept paperwork

- walk home very disappointed again

- wait 6 weeks

- get phone call from friendly CBS rep whose entire job consists of re-instating people whose blood & marrow were mistakenly rejected

- walk to CBS to donate blood & register for marrow donation

- discover that donation clinic isn't open

- walk home very disappointed (again again)

- go to Israel, preferably when there's a war

- call Magen David Adom (Red Shield - Israeli equivalent to the Red Cross) & wait on hold until Hell freezes over

- ask Anglo-Israeli friends where to go to donate blood

- over 5 weeks, frequently go to Central Bus Station & Zion Square looking for donation vans (which are supposed to be there almost every day)

- 2 days before returning to Canada, finally happen across a mobile blood donation vehicle in Zion Square

- fill out 4 pages of donation form in Hebrew with help from friend who is fully bilingual & knows all the medical jargon

- wait

- bring form & ID for blood pressure test & haemoglobin assessment

- follow an R.N. into van for private interview

- lie down on donation bed

- be asked whether I have recently had a cold

- have 10 minute conversation about definition of cold symptoms, severity, & a million details about throat, sinuses, eyes, etc...

- be rejected over having had a cold too recently

- walk home very disappointed (again again again)

- return to Canada

- go Shabbes shopping (groceries, wine, candles, etc)

- decide to live dangerously

- walk to CBS with Shabbes shopping, having neither eaten nor drunk

- have reception check on long & bizarre paper trail supporting the safety of blood hoping to be donated

- fill out extremely long & detailed donation form with surprising questions (like Did you spend more than a total of 12 weeks in the UK between 1977 & 1990?)

- wait

- bring form & ID for blood pressure test & haemoglobin assessment

- follow an R.N. into a small room for a private interview

- be gratefully accepted as a blood & marrow donor after explaining everything again (YES!)

- lie down on donation bed

- be swabbed first with alcohol until a timer sounds, then with iodine

- be stuck with the biggest livestock needle ever (are these really meant for humans?)

- take 20 minutes - about twice as long as expected - to fill a bag

- apply ice to wound

- sit around the goody table, where nothing is kosher, & meet a non-Jewish lady who works at the JCC as well as a non-Jewish woman who was adopted by a Jewish family & grew up going to Catholic school & Jewish summer camp

- walk home with Shabbes shopping, quite pleased to finally have accomplished this mitzvah of helping preserve other people's lives by consenting to be drained a pint, & get ready for the long weekend

Shabbat Shalom!!!

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Hits Since March 2, 2005!
Free Counter by Pliner.Net
dating, lasik,