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.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


19 Adar

Shalom rav - a great peace - to everyone!

I spent part of Shabbes at the home of some very dear friends & it was perfectly lovely, barukh ha-Shem. I was the only Orthodox Jew there, as I tend to spread myself over denominations like peanut butter :)

After a wonderful meal followed by bentsching (singing the grace after meals), one of the guests began to compare "the way the Orthodox bentsch" rather unfavourably to how we had just thanked G@d for our bounteous Shabbes dinner. "The Orthodox" speed-mumble their prayers with no joy or conscious intention, "The Orthodox" don't educate their women, "The Orthodox" don't enjoy communal fellowship like us, "The Orthodox" this & "The Orthodox" that", hello? I'm sitting right here!

To their credit, our hosts attempted to direct the conversation: "When you speak about Orthodoxy, you're referring to your grandfather..."
"...& not, for example, to me." I added.
"That's right - she's Orthodox." another chimed in.
At that point my mind went elsewhere, not unlike what Dustin Hoffman's character's mind did in The Graduate.

I thought about the countless examples I could give of the joy, fellowship, & commitment to G@d I have experienced in Orthodox circles, but I didn't. Partly because I would have come off defensive & partly because I didn't want to embarrass the speaker. Not in the spirit of Shabbes...& besides it's just so tedious to have to listen to Jews criticize each other behind our backs (yawn)

I believe one of the ways we can express our gratitude for the brit (covenant) of Shabbat is to not practice sinat chinam (causeless hatred) towards out fellow Jews, regardless of our opinions on their choices.

I wanted to get out of there, so I did. There's no place like home...
...Auntie Em! Auntie Em! There were flying monkeys!

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Anonymous Rachel said...

What a frustrating experience! I'm sorry you had to deal with that.

The same thing happens to me sometimes, from the other direction, and it makes me sad and angry. We all need to treat one another better, and to respect one another's ways of living our Jewish lives.

11:18 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Hey, Rachel - great to see you commenting on my blog again :)

Thanks for your empathy. I appreciate that very much. This is just the latest incident of people being antagonistic toward "The Orthodox" in my presence.

Yes, it's very sad. I'm sorry you have had similar experiences. It makes me crazy when Jews chip away at each other. It's one thing to have a respectful, engaged dialogue about differences. That's cool.
But so often that's not what it is.

When I was a Conservative Jew, & staunchly so, I recall people from my small-town shul going on about Charedim. But they'd never met any. So I made a point of attending both Neve Yerushalayim & Midreshet Rachel years ago so I could hang out with Charedim & get to know the score.

It's ok to be able to identify where we agree & disagree, but most of our Jewish choices are between each neshamah & G@d. So we should just leave it alone, already!

2:19 a.m.  
Blogger Evenewra said...

I've always felt that Orthodox Judaism cannot really make sense unless you just try it. Very easy to bash. Very addictive once you've had a decent experience.

Isn't it unfortunate that in all sorts of Jewish homes, a Shabbat dinner is the place people choose to place their soapbox on things they don't really know much about.

2:38 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...


One Shabbes I came out of the bathroom at Shaarey Tefilah (MO shul) & ritually washed my hands with the kos netilas yadayim (hand-washing cup), as I do. There was a woman standing there by the washing station, from another shul/denomination, who saw me. Just as I was about to say the asher yatzar blessing (for a properly working body), she stopped me to ask why I didn't wash my hands with hot water & soap. Maybe it was flu season, I don't remember. I explained to her that I had used cold water & soap in the washroom, but that I also did the ritual hand washing & blessing outside. Anyway, suffice to say that our conversation escalated into her advising me to not show off about hiw religious I was & to just act like normal people...

It's so important for us to just lay off. Obviously my hand washing ritual pushed one of her buttons & it wasn't actually about me. Because really, who am I hurting by performing this ritual? I'm not implying that she doesn't do it nor that she's a bad Jew if she doesn't.

& I see the same runaway train coming from the other direction, as Rachel mentioned. I feel really uncomfortable around people who like to spend time amusing themselves by randomly criticising other groups of Jews. It's always such a patronizing & malicious attitude.

I believe that all Jews should reach out to each other in a filial spirit. Who knows what miracles could happen then?

3:12 a.m.  
Anonymous Rachel said...

You know, one of the things I love about Elat Chayyim is that it's open to Jews of all denominations. Every time I've been there I have encountered Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform -- and often also unaffiliated or nonobservant -- Jews. Over the course of each retreat, we all fall in love with Judaism and with each other a little bit, and by the end of the week it's much harder for any of us to generalize about those Other People and their Other Way of being Jewish. :-)

3:19 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Yes, Rachel, I agree. In my experience the staff there do a good job of recognizing multiple needs of multiple practices of multiple Jews, which is no mean feat. & if one feels like one's Jew-toes are being trodden on, the atmosphere encourages one to say so (respectfully).
& I don't think I've been Orthodox-bashed there...
The things I wish to not participate in at E"Ch I simply withdraw from or at least am quiet during, so others can fully be present :)

3:35 p.m.  

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