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 Soferet.com; 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, July 25, 2005

NEILAH CARLEBACH!

בס"ד


Tamuz 18

She is possibly one of the sweetest people I have ever encountered. We've been spending some close time together off & on the past few days. Today we were chatting at the official Kallah opening (which was hilarious, as usual, mostly due to R' Jack Gabriel's antics & Deb Kolodny's humour. I told Neilah that I'd grown up in BC & she countered with having grown up in Toronto. She smiled & shouted, "Canucks!" & we high-fived each other.
:D
Turns out, after all my student were seated by me, I had the pleasure of welcoming 2 re-takers! One professional sculptor from Brazil & a Chicagoan who each took my class last Kallah, 2 years ago, & wanted to tiptoe through the midrash on the alefbet with me once again! :)

After this celebrations came the Teachers Ethics Meeting. This is a mandatory session which is both a "don't sleep with your students" reminder & a "watch out for all the students with personality disorders".
I'm always so grateful for these exercises. I am not practiced at dealing with inappropriate behaviour in a way that redirects the energy kindly.
R' Goldie Milgram gave an example of what sort of boundary-crossing behaviour had already been displayed at the registration table:
A student came retracing her steps looking for her water bottle (which they give away at Kallah with your name on it), but instead of her own, she came across the water bottle of a teacher who had left theirs behind.
"Oh, well if this teacher left their water bottle behind, then I guess I'm not such a bad person" she began. Then she went on, "I wonder how much I could get for this water bottle on eBay." She examined the bottle more closely & saw that it wasn't full. "Hey, if this teacher drank from their water bottle & then I drink from it, it would be ike we kissed."

Unfortunately, any kind of open, loving, welcoming, ecstatic, inclusive, charismatic event will attract traumatised people with unhealthy boundaries. So we teachers were cautioned against the type of students who can suck the life out of you & still demand more.

The smikha ceremony this evening that Reb Zalman led for his eldest son, Sholom, was very moving & quite colourful. I just wish that Sholom didn't look so much like Steve Martin. It made it hard for me to focus on his very sincere drush on Tiqun Olam, because I was on the edge of my seat waiting for him to pull out a banjo & fluffy pink bunny ears & sing a bayou song about Torah.
Yes, I'm mischevous & irreverent but I generally keep it to myself.

I introduced myself & Joel to the lovely Lisa, another fummie who found herself at Kallah. She's a journalist who wrote a bit about me in an article here.
As we strolled her to her room that night & stood 'round the entrance to Hickory Hall, we made the acquaintance of Billy Yalowitz - The Jew with the Friendliest Name on the Planet. He had an ude. We were all suitably impressed.

Good night.

6 Comments:

Blogger Barefoot Jewess said...

Would you say that events of this nature attract more than their fair share of whackos? This is not an idle question, btw.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד
I'm afraid that I would say that, Barefoot. I think an kind of religious fervor whether Jewish or Christian or Sufi or whatever is not only appealing to most of us, but extra-appealing to those more likely to "fall in love" with their teachers.
It can be difficult for some students to realise that the Holy Torah they are learning is not being transmitted directly from their teacher, but through their teacher from HaShem.
There's one in every crowd, but at intensely high-energy events there are at least 5.
& certainly some of these students have been taken advantage of in the past by a teacher, which is such a tragic experience to have entwined with one's Judaism.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Eliyahu said...

thanks for sharing, and for the link to Lisa's article. barefoot, if there were 5, that would still be less than 1 % of the 700 in attendence.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד

Sure, it's only less than 1%, but if one of those 5 people focuses on *you*, then it might as well be 100%. One of my students attempted to embarrass me in class in front of the other students & followed me around for part of the week. I sought & got great advice from R' Goldie Milgram & Dr Barry Bub on how to gently disengage & it worked just fine. It was still pretty yucky in the meantime, though...

10:49 AM  
Blogger Eliyahu said...

pretty yucky, for sure....may you be blessed to have only wonderful students in the future! i've noticed that with so many talented, educated people, eager to share (and shine) in class, that often class discussion takes on a life of its own. now sometimes that's fine, but sometimes it takes a delicate but firm strength from the teacher to keep things moving along. I noticed that Rabbi David Zaslow did a great job of that, and it was needed as he covered a substantial amount of material.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד
It certainly is an intense week at Kallah, when every 2 years 700 people try to burst open...
...sometimes you just need to duck!

9:22 PM  

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