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.

Monday, February 28, 2005



I decided to experiment with the hazardous occupation of self-promotion, just to see how this animal works. It's untamed, this I understand, but I'm still curious. To this end, I have included some links to the right side-bar under the category "SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION" to various press articles about me & my work...

...or are they? Each time a new piece comes out, sometimes without my being interviewed or even knowing about it, I am fascinated by what spin the journalist chooses to give it. I am also occasionally alarmed by some of the errors. This is one of the reasons why I keep a blog - to make statements in my own voice that I can take responsibility for - unless somebody quotes me out of context, of course ;+>

I have noticed, for example, that every *single* writer I have ever spoken to has written without any hesitation that I am the first soferet in the history of the world, that I am the first woman to write a Sefer Torah. I assure all you readers out there, that I have never made that claim. In the beginning of the press attention, I simply said that I didn't know, that I couldn't be sure, that I didn't want to make a claim that I couldn't prove. But the following week, there I was, The First. The Only.

Now as time has worn on, I'm becoming more & more convinced that a woman *must* have written a Sefer Torah before, based on what I am learning & reading in my "spare" time & recording in this blog. Each time I speak to a journalist I say, "You know, I don't think I *am* the first, but I don't know who was. Someone other than myself should be researching this."

Now, I think that being unusual (very few women have been sofrot) rather than unique (there has never been any sofrot) is still a good, newsworthy story. But I don't have to sell papers. & yes, I do realise that this image the press is constructing of me will lead to more press & maybe more gigs & jobs & all that. But I don't actually want to be famous. Fame is false & ugly & just ask any famous people about having no privacy & people gossipping about them all the time. I DON'T WANT THAT!

All I want is to have a steady amount of work that I enjoy & feel priviledged to execute so that Joel & I can have a nice little life where we focus on G@d & each other & Torah & our families & friends...just enough so that we don't have to struggle financially. But I'm not interested in celebrity. How could I market myself effectively, anyway? Being Orthodox, I'm not available to participate in the provocative behaviour of, say, oh, pick any pop star you see on TV. & that seems to be the only way to make a buck these days, by selling out.

Or of course if G@d sends you the brakhah of parnasa :)
Then you're set.
As Tevye said in Fiddler on the Roof, in response to Perchik's comment that "Money is the World's curse":
"May the good L@rd smite me with it! And may I never recover!"

Please feel free to comment (constructively, please) on the content of any of the articles I have included in my new experiment.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That "local woman uses quill" line in my article? I didn't write it.

I wrote: "the first woman in modern history to be certified as a Jewish religious scribe"

See, I specified *modern* history, and *certified as..." I was specifically trying to avoid stating that you are the first woman to ever write a sefer Torah.

Although, you're probably the hippest chick to ever write one ;)

Unfortunately, you can't control what the media writes about you. The best you can do is remain honest to yourself and to your work, and as you said, maintain a place where you can speak in your voice.

1:47 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Hey, Alissa - I owe you an apology. You're absolutely right, you were very careful of your wording & really listened to me when we spoke. You were also totally respectful of my concerns, so...

I'M SORRY! Please forgive me & THANK YOU for being a responsible information-spreader :D

I actually wasn't meaning to refer to you when I wrote so critically in this post. In fact you are a shining example of how to be a journalist. Truth be told, the JWB was pretty good too, so I don't mean to diss them with this post either.

So thanks for speaking up about your article! & for saying that I'm such a hip chick ;)

2:18 p.m.  
Blogger Poor Mad Peter said...

Well, on my web site, i did say something like: "Aviel Barclay is making herstory as an Orthodox Jewish artist who is creating a Torah scroll. What's so special about this? Aviel is a woman, and she is the first woman sofer (scribe) to be creating a copy of the Torah--ever. That she is Canadian is also a point of pride for us." (hhtp://

I am a journalist, but in this case, i was being a fan. But, your sensibilties notwithstanding, until we find evidence of another woman sofer, then I'd say you're stuck with it. I submit that your only option is to continue to the glory of G@d. {impish yet sympathetic grin}

5:17 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Wow, Peter, I had no idea you were a journalist :D
Thank you for your good-humoured comment. You do have a point, but it makes me squirm a little & I don't know what to do with it, except for step up my learning about women of the past who may have been my predecessors...
...& thanks for being a fan :)
I enjoy your blog very much too, but my life has been quite chaotic the past few months so I have not read nor commented as much as I would have liked.

7:59 p.m.  
Anonymous murm said...

most of those articles didn't seem to be full articles i could read off of my computer... & the jewish one... um, with a lot of dates i couldn't see at all. but i think the whole thing is very interesting.

the first time i saw you was at purim when you were finishing the megilla. i thought it was the coolest thing ever.

and i do need a mezuza, actually.

9:29 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Hi, Miriam. Thanks for the heads up on the Jewish Western Bulletin links - I fixed them & they all workie now.
I'm glad you got a charge out of my first Megilah. It was a trip for me, too.
Be in touch about your mezuzah.

11:30 p.m.  
Blogger Evenewra said...

Just browsing your blog a bit... felt like reading this link. I didn't even realize I had stolen your "Shameless Self-Promotion" line for my own blog. Hope you don't mind.

Some people's children!

2:21 p.m.  

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