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.

Sunday, October 31, 2004



Tuesday, August 3rd
Trucking along, thinking about this month of Av. "It is the month of the 'low point' of the Jewish calendar (the 9th of Av, the day of the sin of the spies and the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem) as well as the month of the 'high point' of the Jewish calender (the 15th of Av--'there are no happier days for Israel than the 15th of Av and Yom HaKippurim' (Mishnah Ta'anit 26:)--the day of finding one's predestined soul-mate).
This accords with the teaching of our sages that 'the Mashiach is born on the 9th of Av.' Relative to all other souls of Israel, the soul of Mashiach, who comes to redeem Israel from her state of (spiritual as well as physical) exile, is like a groom to his bride. After his birth on the 9th of Av he reveals himself to his bride and betroths her on the 15th of Av."
- from
7pm - OHIO!
All I know about Ohio I learned on the Drew Carey Show :)
At sun down I stopped at Oberlin College, Joel's alma mater, to daven minch/maariv & explore the town. Checked out the Kosher/Halal Food Co-Op & took the tour - even found malted ice cream with a heksher in the little "everything store" on the main drag. There were Palestinian flags spraypainted on rocks in the park.
At 10pm I knocked on R' Shimon & Amy's door, cringing at how late it was, but desperately wanting to meet them, after I'd heard so many wonderful stories about each of them separately from Joel, Kyla, my Sofer & his wife :)
Well, not only were they home, but they had *just* returned from Israel FIFTEEN MINUTES beforehand! He said, "It's a good thing you came now, because 15 minutes ago we weren't here & in 15 minutes we'd be asleep :) It was meant to be!"
So we all had tea & traded stories - it was truly warm. Shimon, who is blind, opened one of the new little antique chotchkes he'd purchased while away & told us about it. He is an avid Asian art collector. He held this tiny blue enameled box in his hands & felt over it all carefully..."This is the blue one," he said, "it has very fine enamel work & has clusters of flowers...". He then went on to describe the artist's career & showed me how he could tell by feel who crafted it & what it looked like. He is truly amazing!
We were all bushed, so turned in so we could visit more energetically in the morning.



Monday, August 2nd (BC Day - why do I always end up spending my Canadian holidays in the US?)

Woke with the sun & stumbled into the rest room to wash & get ready to daven. As I was in the bathroom, the hostile rest stop caretaker yelled through the stall door at me that the door is required to remain open. Yikes. Well, welcome to Wyoming...
Washed, Davened in a covered picnic area with truckers staring, trying to dump the ugly energy that had just been spewed on me in the bathroom.

Hit the road & made South Dakota.
Stopped at the Flying J in Wall (who could resist after hundreds of miles of funny, odd old-fashioned signs?) made lunch on the car & phone calls home.
Dropped into NAPA for a power inverter, to keep my laptop & music going while on the road, & a turn-signal bulb. The air conditioning didn't hurt either.
There is a Giant green brontosaurus there.

I really wanted to explore the Badlands, but between the tight schedule I needed to keep & the fact that you have to *pay admission*, I skipped & zoomed off to Iowa.

By 6:30 I was in Sioux Falls, IA - so strange to be here after 3 years. All the rest stops in Iowa & Nebraska have wireless internet - what an unexpected blessing! I stopped to meditate on the fireflies' light & the chicada's sound. It was unbelieveably humid. I'm really worried about the Torah qlaf I have stored in the car. It's in a hard tube & wrapped in plastic, but still...

Made it to yet another Flying J, in Davenport (a dear place with it's own real Egyptian mummy), to call - get gas - make a pitstop...looking for MR Internet Cafe, but there's none to be found. I'm exhausted, so purchase a cervical pillow & settle into the front of the car, musing about the sights I took in today, including passing the home of Laura Ingalls, & a nasty looking Biker with a waving Elmo doll & US flag on the back of his Harley.

I fell asleep with my head peeking out of the open widow, waking occasionaly during the all-night thunder & lightning storm to say the brakhahs on such wonders of G@d.



Sunday, August 1st
As I sped down I-90 the fear of the notorious unplugging battery which put the kibosh on my May speaking engagement in Eugene, Oregon, began to haunt the back of my mind.
Instead, I wished I'd asked Michael for his last name (he ignored all my attempts to reconnect over Shabbes) so I could at least continue to reach out to him, hoping he was at least keeping the 7 commandments of the Children of No'ach:
· No blasphemy against G@d and or G@d's Name
· No idolatry or worship of other gods or objects
· No murder or needless killing of another human
· No cruelty to or eating the flesh of a living animal
· No stealing, kidnapping, or other theft or cheating
· No immoral sex acts like adultery, incest, or pedophilia
· Establish a justice system to enforce the Noachide Laws
Montana has great state welcoming billboards!
Hurriedly ate lunch of tuna & pickle sandwiches in the car.
In the early afternoon I encountered an aggressive gas station customer in Billings - banging his fist on the window right next to my face - some people get so rageful about buying gas.
8pm - the little big horn is closed :( Shame - I love road trips so I can visit historical sights as well, not just drive endlessly.
As the sun slipped behind the rolling hills of the high plain, I stopped for mincha & dinner standing outside the car next to the stop sign at the Parkman exit. There was *nothing* around except a single doe who was bound & determined to leap the barrier & cross the freeway in the dark. I watched her nervously & mentally pleaded with her to cross on the path underneath, but she worried her way across without incident, barukh haShem.
Stopped for oil & gas in Sheridan. The oil light keeps flicking on each time the car turns, & didn't have time to change the oil before the trip (not smart), so there's always a couple of litres of 10-40 in the back.
Red full moon, like a bloody visage. T"U b'Av. The Full moon, the great relief & forgiveness of this holy & intense month. A lunar eclipse on Jewish Love Day.
By 11:30 I was exhausted, so pulled over into the Powder River rest stop in Wyoming & slept in the front seat of the car.

Saturday, October 30, 2004



Shabat, July 31st
I rolled over into the sunlight of Shabat morning & washed, then davened, avoiding treading on the waxy mess in the grass where I'd lit my candles the night before. When I was finished Shacharit I looked up to see a young man with a punam, a very Jewish face, sitting on the picnic bench opposite & watching. I smiled. What else does one do with a harmless stranger? I walked over the grass to my canteen sitting on my picnic table & poured myself a glass of water. It was only 10am & already a thristy day. I poured a second cup & approached this young man, "Would you like some water?"
He smiled & accepted. "What's your name?" I asked.
"Michael", he replied, "Hey, are you a HEBREW?" He was very excited.
I smiled, "I'm a Jew, yes."
"Well, I'm also Jewish, I guess, but I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord & Saviour, so I guess you could call me a Messianic Jew."
WOW. I've heard of these people, seen them in documentaries, but never met one before. "Well, then, Good Sabbath." I anglicized my expression of Shabat peace to him, just in case. I guessed rightly by his question that he had little, if any Jewish identity growing up.
He was a young guy, maybe 20, taller than I with short curly brown hair, eyes to match hiding behind sunglasses & some scraggly facial hair. He was studying at the Christian College in Cheney. His family had come to spend time with him, so they were camping 3 sites over. He noticed the praying action, so came over to get a closer look.
"So, do guys, like, still sacrifice animals?"
I smiled, & chuckled a bit, at his surprising question. "Oh, no! No-no-no..." I shook my head, smiling, "We haven't done that in 2,000 years. Not since our Temple was destroyed."
He moved to the next topic. "So, what do you guys do about SALVATION?"
"Well,..." I took this opportunity to do my best to explain to him that G@d requires us to be conscious & kind to others at all times, to act appropriately, & when we make mistakes, to acknowledge them, apologise to whomever we hurt, learn from our errors, put things right, give charity, perform mitzvot & do everything in our power to emulate G@d.
We had an interesting conversation à la Ramban's "The Disputation at Barcelona", where he explained to me that humans are lost, are doomed from birth & that each day we sink deeper & deeper into sin, so we all need Jesus. I smiled. I related to him that G@d requires each person to stand up & take responsibility for our own sins, because no other person can do that for us, as our sins are ours alone & we are the ones with the power to correct ourselves & the world. He didn't like that much, unfortunately. He got a bit short with me, so I told him that I was really enjoying talking with him, since sharing ideas respectfully with people you disagree with is a blessing & a learning experience. He could see that he would not win a convert out of me, so became flustered & witnessed at me. His Christian duty fulfilled, he stalked off.
I was sad to lose him. I didn't think I could open the window to his beautiful & holy Jewish heritage in just a few minutes, but I felt bad that he was going away to continue on this path of apikorsut he'd chosen.
G@d protect him & reunite him with his brethren, Amo Yisra'el, soon.
Qidush & lunch after studying the Torah portion was fun :) a warm, sunny picnic of kosher food purchased in Seattle.
After lunch I took a walk down the road to view the rippled scrubby warm mountains. They were very reassuring somehow.
I took a nap in the tent, not being able to take much heat - & listened to insect noise.
I read "The Art of Pilgrimage", by Cousineau, in the shady grass later in the afternoon & examined what I hoped to do on this voyage: reconnect with family, meet new friends, learn deep Torahs about everyday life, explore cemeteries for long-dead ancestors, find G@d everywhere between a red clover blossom & a crack in a Manhattan sidewalk, get married...
Shalosh seudos was mellow, with the dipping of the sun & the whiz & whir of more bugs coming to life :) I miss this in the city.
Havdalah, with its song & huge flame, drew attention from those in neighbouring campsites...but I see this as a way of stating the existence of G@d, & that Moshiach will come.
Shavu'ah tov!

Thursday, October 28, 2004



...of G@d

"...b'li reyshit, b'li takhleet..."
"...without beginning, without end..."

Wednesday, October 27, 2004



I dreamed :

"With the ink of its showers and rains,
with the quill of its illuminating lightning,
and the hand of its clouds,
autumn wrote a letter upon the garden,
in purple and blue.
No artist could conceive of such things.
And this is why the earth,
grown jealous of the sky,
embroidered stars in the folds of the flowerbeds."

 Rabbi Solomon ben Judah Ibn Gabirol of Cordova (c.1021-1058)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004



Shalom u’vrakha to you all, peace & blessings. Susan Davis was kind enough to ask me to write an update for the Kadima newsletter, & this is the result. First I’d like to tell you about some of the “outer” things which have changed in the past while for me & the Sefer, married in this process. My letterforms & spacing have definitely improved. Letters like Gimel & Alef have more “personality”, & even my simpler otiyot (letters), like Vav, have become more solid & present. I have also slightly changed (allowably) the angle on one part of Shin, which makes a huge positive difference in its execution & aesthetic. For all these I am truly grateful to G@d.

I have experienced many reasons for speed variations. Though my skill as a soferet has no doubt improved, how quickly I can write & how much I can accomplish in any given day is still different.

One of the “inner” things, which have changed for me during the writing process of the Sefer, is that I realized that I’m not really a Feminist; I’m a Mutualist. That one of the things that I hope my writing this Sefer for Kadima will alter in Jewish life & practice is not to help bring women ahead of men, but to open up an area previously closed to women, at least functionally. That if Kadima & I can help make sofrut not only a skill that women can learn alongside men, but a real, concrete practical way that women can earn their living, make it a viable career option, then we will have assisted in equalizing the gender disparity existing in some areas of Judaism today.

I made a radio appearance on CBC One, the Canadian national station, at a show called “Sounds Like Canada” last November. It was really a lot of fun. I brought a sheet of qlaf (parchment) with me & shook it on the air so everyone in the country could hear what qlaf sounds like. And the execs at CBC liked the show so much they included my interview in their “best of” special & played it over again this summer.

While Joel & I were on our road trip honeymoon, I dropped brochures for the WTP across the continent, from New England to the Canadian Rockies, & I also connected with quite a few Jewish organizations, which had heard of the WTP & wanted to learn more about how they could help. That was very encouraging.

I was a guest on a local TV show a couple of weeks ago called “Studio 4”, where I spoke about how there are grounds, even within traditional Halakhah (Jewish Law), for a Jewish woman to write a Sefer Torah. I really enjoyed meeting all the people behind the scenes at the TV station, most of whom were Jewish (of course!) & were really happy about the work Kadima & I are doing. I hope by taking every opportunity to interact with the media that I’ll garner further financial support for the WTP & bring attention to this very important issue in Judaism.

I hope these few words have been of interest to you all, & that you had a meaningful New Year bursting with joy & anticipation for 5765.

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