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.

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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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003



Tuesday, September 9th

Today felt weird & icky & just *not safe*. Very much like the day of the #2 bus bombing in Me'ah She'arim. I walked to the Rova (Jewish Quarter of the Old City) early this afternoon to pray. There were *many* many more soldiers & police out today. They must have some intelligence that someone is walking around with explosives today. OY. I'm used to guns & flashing lights & x-rays & barricades & UN vehicles everywhere, but now it was like we were at war & being invaded...which I guess we are. They were stopping & checking all of the cars moving in or out of the city, not just Arab-owned cars or cars with Palestinian license plates - EVERYONE. They were interviewing each person in every car one at a time & searching everything & everyone - & in a city of, what? Half a million people? That's an enormous undertaking. I'm so glad I walk.
As I crossed Qeren Hayesod & spied a Palestinian flag air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror of a white Subaru that sped by me...
I strolled through The Sultan's pool/Hell on my way between Yemim Moshe & the Rova & up the corridor of gift shops...did you know they have souvenir shops in Hell also? :) This is quite a place!
I went through the Armenian Quarter to buy a little present for Kyla, a Muslim friend of Joel's & soon mine as well, hopefully. I would've liked to go through the Shuk, but it's just such a hassle for a blonde woman to enter there alone (at my own risk!) & nobody I know will go with me. So sad.
I'd seen this beautiful little ceramic tile covered in Arabic writing, so I brought it to the shop owner & asked to buy it. "What does it say?" I enquired. As I do Arabic calligraphy, but do not, in fact, *read* Arabic, I thought I ought to know exactly what I was buying for my friend. For all I knew, it mught be a barrage of insults to tourists, or anti-Jewish or *something* that would've rendered a meanigless gift for me to give to her.
"It's the Lord's Prayer."
I chose out something else for her :)
The Kotel was *not* blocked off today, so thank G@d I could commune with the glowing stones. "My spot" was even free! I stood thoughtfully with my hands on the warm rock & breathed consciously, gathering the thoughts of my heart so I could bring them to HaShem with greater intention, & hopefully feel some relief from my current fears. I wept.
I strolled back to Yafo - as I passed through the Gate, I spied an Arab woman & her daughter (I assume) crouched under the shade of a tree. The child looked physically to be about 3, but the look on her face made her seem 40. The woman put out her hand & began gently whispering to me in Arabic. She may have only been my age, or a bit older, but her eyes looked a century old. I opened my wallet & poured out all my change, whatever it was, & handed it to her little girl. She placed a hand over her heart & bowed her head, quietly speaking her blessings (?) & gratitude (?) as she extended the other out to me in what seemd like a benediction. I was so touched, I just bowed respectfully back to her & smiled, heading on. I didn't even remember how to say "salaam" to her, I was so moved...
I marched up Ben Yehudah& was encountered by a Charedi man with his tedaqah (charity) box & little red threads & charms he was ready to exchange for a few sheqels. He kept calling to me, "Giveret! Giveret! (Ma'am!) tzedaqah!"
I raised my hand against him & said sorry, that I didn't have - & I really didn't!
"It's a mitzvah!" he called after me. I ignored him. What was I supposed to do? Tell him I'd just given all my coins to an Arab woman?
As I was crossing the street by Moulin, marijuana smoke wafted by - smells like Vancouver...
I spent 2 hours with my sofer today - letters, letters, letters - he re-cut nib - he said I was doing really well, doing excellent - he's still concerned about time frame - but he's letting me move onto words now & not just lines of letters & letter combos. All this as we learned & listened to Chinese lullabyes. He mentioned that perhaps we could get pre-scored klaf - he also teased me about the particular kulmus I was using & how it had become my favorite. "You've grown beyond the quill & have to learn how to let go..."
The Doar (post office) was a circus - after going through the usual security check & bag search & body search & metal detector, I was in a line-up being delayed by a Mexican woman wanting to mail several huge boxes back home. The tellers & she were working back & forth in Hebrew-Spanish-English :) as none of them spoke the same language very well. The one man taking care of her would exclaim each time she co-operated: "Halleluyah! - Barukh HaShem!"
I made dinner & cooled off. I need the air conditioner on practically 24/7.
I went to sleep at 8pm as I was exhausted from being outside in the heat - it was 11:20 when I awoke to sirens & helicopters. I felt sick immediately. I knew something *really* horrible had happened & I could tell it was close. I really needed to know where the pigu'ah was, because sitting inside surrounded by all these scary noises was too much. I got onto ICQ to ask my friends - what's going on? I didn't know if it was really safe to go outside. Joel wasn't at home, so I left a message with his housemate to let him know that I was ok. It was making me crazy to just sit there & not know what was going on or where it was. I just couldn't sit there with all the screaming sirens & terse voices barking out instructions over megaphones. My friends on ICQ told me to stay inside or to go to my sofer's. They were just worried about me & wanted to make sure I was safe. But I hurried out to the main street anyway. My arms were folded hard & stiff in front of my chest as though it were freezing out, but of course it wasn't. I was just afraid of what I might find. I could feel that only making the choice to witness this horror would be a life-changing experience for me & I didn't know how it would affect me. I wonder if this is how Mum felt during WW2. It was just as I'd feared. There were masses of people - every kind of Jew, tons of emergency crews, cel phones, flashing lights making the scene like daylight & the road was chockerblock FULL of people as far as I could see from north to south. I could see it was a block south - didn't go look any closer as I don't need to be a voyeur when people are murdered - I didn't want to *see*. I could barely breathe. I just wanted to know if it was really out there on the street. I didn't go any closer. I came back in, weepy, & called Mum.
I wanted to make sure I could tell her I was ok before she heard about it. I don't want her to worry.
I turned on the news. It was Cafe Hillel that was hit by the bomb. I didn't want to see the pictures of medics gathering body parts - pieces of innocent people who'd been torn apart by the explosion. Knowing it was my favorite local coffee joint was enough. It was the coolest place & my friends & I used to hang out there on the patio. My heart & my guts felt stilled & heavy.
The scene here, even though I didn't "go look", is unbelieveable & it was still life-changing to approach it. I feel sick. I'm going to say tehilim. & weep. I hope my sofer & his family are ok. I'll be up all night. It's too noisy outside my flat & inside my heart to sleep.
"Melekh chaya l'almaya y'mageyn am l'hon m'shacharin." - May The King who lives eternally shield his people who pray to Him. From Yetziv Pisgam.


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