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 16, 2005



14 Cheshvan

This article appeared in the Jewish Independent the end of last week. My edits & comments appear below.

Nov. 11, 2005

Local scribe on Vision

The Torah being written by Aviel Barclay is a first.

There are few people in the world who have the gumption and the determination to follow their dreams, let alone if those dreams conflict with societal norms or religious doctrine. This month, VisionTV will air Soferet: A Special Scribe, a documentary about Vancouverite Aviel Barclay, who has chosen to become a Torah scribe (soferet), despite the fact that most Jewish authorities believe that rabbinic law forbids a woman from writing a Torah scroll for ritual use.

"I was told by one [sofer, male scribe] that I would better serve the Jewish people by getting married and having children," says Barclay in the documentary. She then laughs confidently, adding that she told the sofer that she wants to do that, too.
[I'm glad I come off sounding confident, in a way, but I recall that I did not feel confident during that interview. First of all, although the film makers were terrific, I was very nervous about being interviewed on celluloid. Second, nobody can be "confident" that they will ever become parents - that's a blessing that only G@d can grant, so I can only pray that my husband & I will find favour in the eyes of The Holy One.]

Barclay's husband, Joel Rothschild, is one of the many people interviewed in Soferet. He underscores Barclay's assertion that she is obligated to be a scribe. She "believes she has been given this work to do by God," he says.

Such conviction and self-assuredness seems to have directed much of Barclay's life...When her father died suddenly, when she was 16, Barclay stepped back from religion entirely for a couple of years. After her right hand was crushed in a cycling accident, she had to undergo much therapy to write again...

...Barclay started doing Hebrew calligraphy – reviving an interest in Hebrew letters that she had had since childhood. It was then, she says, that it dawned on her that she was to be a soferet; that she would write a Torah scroll.

Soferet includes a brief history of Barclay's life, including an interview with her mother. It touches upon some of Barclay's struggles in finding a willing scribe to teach her the art. Many rabbis are also featured, such as Or Shalom's Rabbi Hillel Goelman and Shaarey Tefilah's Rabbi Shachar Ornstein. Other clergy are interviewed as well, and the documentary cogently explains the central role played by the Torah in Judaism and sensitively presents the controversies surrounding whether a woman can be a soferet.

... For more information on Barclay's ritual and mystical art, which includes ketubot (marriage contracts), amulets and other work, visit Soferet: A Special Scribe airs on VisionTV on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m., and repeats on Thursday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m.

[the original article can be found here].


Blogger Talmida said...

I just checked the TV guide, Aviel, you're on at 8 pm in Edmonton. I'm looking forward to it.


12:34 p.m.  
Blogger Poor Mad Peter said...

The documentary is magnificent. I'm glad that you gave us the heads-up on it, and hope that many others will see it.

Peter Fergus-Moore

5:43 a.m.  
Blogger Talmida said...

That was terrific, Aviel! I really enjoyed it.

6:44 a.m.  
Blogger Emily said...

I am trying very hard to find words for all my thoughts and feeling right now, but I can't quite pull it all together. I just watched your special and was so incredibly moved, moved to tears in fact. You are so blessed, and you represent the silent voices of so many women who came before you, wanting to learn and never getting the opportunity. I think you are a special person with a very special place in the history of the Jewish people. I don't know what else to say, my heart is too full, but I will definately be a regular to your blog from now on.

9:43 p.m.  
Anonymous the Fourth said...


I am soooooo Proud of you! My sister in-law is too, and she would like to show the film to her students at the muslim school.

You Go girl!!!

12:48 a.m.  
Blogger Evenewra said...

How do Americans with no TV reception acquire such a documentary as this?

5:49 p.m.  
Blogger Adam Daniel Mezei said...

Aviel, I had a friend like you in Montreal once...we had such great chats...we spoke about Rashis daughter, and surmised what befell Dina, and spoke about all of the kickass Jewish females over history and how Esther rocked! This mitzvah you're doing is such a Kiddush Hashem.

I'm very proud to be a part of Us.

6:10 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The link appears to work only with the removal of the last few characters: Thanks for providing it!

8:17 a.m.  

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