I did a presentation at the Westcoast Calligraphy Society last night, & it was such fun!
Kasandra picked me up & we went to Sabra's for their to-die-for chicken shwarma. Then off to Kitsilano for the meeting. They were a very friendly bunch & I enjoyed meeting them all. They wrapped up their business part of the meeting within half an hour & then we had some goodies during the break (mine came from Sabra's) & I did a mini-demo of some Hebrew letters, their stroke order & some of the midrash connected to them with the overhead projector.
They were all quite silent. I wasn't sure at first whether I was putting them all to sleep, as sharing even the basics about Hebrew & how to write it can be overwhelming. But the nice thing about giving a talk to a non-Jewish group who are artists & calligraphers is that I can nerd out with them about nib-widths, proportion, kerning, pitch & yaw. I was in heaven!
So I taught them to write the word "shalom". I explained that although this word meant "hello" & "goodbye" & "peace", that "peace" in Hebrew was different than "peace" in English.
In English, what does the word "peace" mean? It means "quiet", "calm", "an absence of war", in other words it indicates a lack of disorder. There is no conflict. "Peace" features nothingness.
In Hebrew, what does the word "shalom" mean? The shoresh/root of "shalom" is Shin-Lamed-Mem Sofit and this combination of letters gives us words like "rest", "reward", "completion", "accomplishment", "wholeness", "perfection", "renewal"...there is an entirety in "shalom", an infinite totality.
I think they appreciated that.
After the initial speaks about the letters & sharing a bit about my journey to become a soferet, I showed them my tools & brought the Megilah so I could write in it in front of them. They were full of questions & I really had a good time chatting with them all, fellow calligraphers.
I felt like one of the group, so I think I'll join :)
I belonged to the Fairbank Calligraphy Society years ago when I lived in Victoria, so it's been a long time since I felt I had a peer group. I certainly don't have many colleagues in sofrut. Outside of the two sofrim who taught me, there are only, I think 4 non-Orthodox Jewish scribes (all men) who will even talk to me. They're great, tho' - we share about technique & the joys & perils of writing The Holy Names, but they're all so far away...3 in the eastern USA & one in London.
Anyway, last night was terrific & I hope to make the next metting in a month where Barbara Hodgson, a local artist/author, will be presenting her latest book.