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, November 03, 2004



Sunday, August 15th
Some of the most precious moments I experienced thanks to this Blueberry Jam have been the crisp wet early mornings & their pale light. It's so quiet & still, it makes me feel more human, more of the Earth, more "adam". To steal softly around the silver dew, past Jay & his clipboard (always up latest & earliest) & be first to the honeybucket, all the while KEEPING SHABBES...
I think the whole camp gathered in Pete's kitchen & scarfed down stacks of home-made pancakes. Except me (not kosher), but they sure smelled good. & it was really warm & happy in there that morning, so I hung out a bit. The secular Israelis were there - the ones I made friends with over the course of the weekend (see? I told you ;+>) - & we made sure we'd catch each other later, before we all left, so we could visit some more. I spent hours talking with them both, but in particular the young woman who was a poet. I really enjoyed meeting her & found her pov & experience very intriguing & she really drew me in.
But enough of all that - off to the Amherst Chabad looking for a morning minyan :)
There was none...only a completely unlocked & open old brick house, with a Sefer Torah & everything, & not a sign of a soul. It was spooky. I didn't know what to do, as I was in Chabad House, but also clearly in somebody's home. I went outside & checked out the grounds. Just debris. Everywhere. Like everyone left in a hurry.
There was a noise in the crumbling brick garage, a ways off from the house. I peered in a broken panel of glass in the door & saw nothng but more debris - lawn furniture, a sukah, bicycles...but I did notice an animal hair caught on the frame, so I backed away.
On my return to the car, the most adorable baby raccoon poked his fluffy head out of the hole & had just poked mine through. I made gentle sounds at him I got into the car so he felt safe to come out & be on his way, which he did.
That's exactly when a huge young family of Lubavitchers appeared from the house - where all those small children had materialised from I have no idea. They were very kind. The husband afforded directions to the other rabbi's home who I wanted to connect with & the wife offered me food, since Amherst, although full of Jews, is not exactly full of kosher food. But I still had left over from shopping in NY & I was on my way back there, so I thanked her & assured her that everything was ok & thank G@d for Coleman coolers.
R' Chaim Edelman, this "other" Chabad rabbi, was great. Showed up at his door & talked with him re the organic kosher co-op intentional community of shomerim which he's been trying to start in the wilds of Massachusetts. What he & several other Lubavitch families are wanting to do is almost identical to that which Joel & I wish to engage in. The concept of a bunch of Jews living out on an organic farm & living with respect of G@d's laws & being self-sufficient as well as selling our blessed excess product sounds like Shomayim to us. Since up until now we've only heard about un-observant Jews who are interested in co-housing, or observant jews aho don't want to farm, or who want to farm but not do organic, etc...well, this was a jackpot & we wanted to trade names, data, ideas, etc. Joel wants to put together "The Whole Mishkan Catalogue" so that Jews all over can help each other realise the dream of stewardship of the Earth, partnership with G@d as we raise our families & do The Work.
Anyway, it was quite enlightening. Who knows how or when R' Edelman will figure into our future plans...
On the way back to the Catskills, I searched for my ancestors' graves in the old farming villages of Grooms Corners & Vischer's Ferry. People who left Europe in the mid-1700's to do there what Joel & I want to do in *our* home. They fed their children from working this land. Their children were United Empire Loyalists & left the US for Canada after the Revolutionary War. I could find no specific info on where they were buried before the trip, so I was dismayed at just HOW MANY old cemeteries there were to explore. I never found my 4x great-grandparents. Perhaps next time. I only found clouds of vicious mosquitos rising from the bushy uncut grass at each gravesite to steal my blood.
I was stunned at how flat & green that area of the Mohawk River Valley is. & I was stunned & saddened that Grooms Corners has become little more than a cookie-cutter townhouse sprawl with a gas station & Qwik-E-Mart. The farms are gone.
Arrived at Elat Chayyim late & hung out with Dave, Muz & some of the other workstudy crowd. It was nice & quiet. & fun when we saw what a skilled actor R' Dave was :)
Time wore on & we tired of our warm company with each other, so I was shown to a room (yay! a bed!) & slept all night with the window open so I could hear the insects transmit their wisdom.


Blogger shanna said...

I have several (observant Jewish) friends who were entertaining the thought of such a cooperative living situations, though I don't think any of them are at a phase in life where they are ready to make such a commitment. The idea is appealing to me as well (I talk about it in one of the earliest entries in my blog) but, to be realisitic, I'm too spoiled, and my husband is certainly not one for such a life.

Oh well...

9:49 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Shanna shalom -
I hear what you're saying. Many of Joel's & my friends are very urbanised, regardless of their observance level, whatever their religion. But they've all chosen to live in Vancouver, Seattle, Montréal, etc, so are not looking for farm life. They also have mostly come from large urban centres like those above, where Joel & I, each having fathers who grew up on farms (farming Jews - who knew?!?) also grew up in very small towns.
However, we've been really inspired by the following books lately:
"The Integral Urban House" by the Farallones Insitute teaches you how to live off the grid very simply & have all your needs met. Four of them did it in the '70's in downtown Berkeley.
"The Plain Reader" edited by Scott Savage is an anthology of "plain people" writers: Luddite, Quaker, Amish folks, etc tell their story of how easy & cheap it is to live simply & in harmony with the Earth & G@d's intention for our world.
"The CoHousing Handbook" by Scott Hansen shows how to practically & successfully develop & maintain an intentional community in an urban setting. He based much of his writing on actual thriving cohousing communities here in the Pacific Northwest, too :)
I'm looking more for a farmlike setting, but Joel is interested in something a little more urban. I'm sure as we explore & develop & discuss our dreams with people we meet & the right ones will come along who wish to join us :)
We'll see!
Shavu'ah tov.

10:45 p.m.  

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