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, December 20, 2004



As promised, I am beginning to share the research I've turned up on women who have done various types of work in sofrut. Dulcie was a twelfth-century communal leader who was martyred (I have 2 dates for this which I am still verifying: 22nd Kislev 1196 OR 1213). The information below was all either found in multiple sites on the internet, in "Written Out of History: Our Jewish Foremothers" by Sondra Henry & Emily Taitz or in R' Tirzah Firestone's book, "The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women’s Wisdom".

Dulcie of Worms was part of a distinguished family of scholarly Franco-German Jews associated with the academies of higher learning in the cities of Worms, Mayence, and Speier. She was the great-granddaughter of the renowned French commentator "Rashi" (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040-1105).

In a poem, Dulcie's husband, the renowned Rabbi Eliezer Ben Yehudah of Worms, describes her religious devotion as well as her work in leading women's prayers in the synagogues, holding public discourses on Shabbat and teaching women in various cities. He tells us that she supported his scholarly work with her business activities, provided room and board for his students, and also escorted brides, sewed Torah scrolls, made candles for the synagogue, etc.

Rebbetzin Dulcie also instructed her two daughters, named Belet and Chana. Both of the girls and Rebbetzin Dulcie were brutally murdered in 1196, between the second and third crusades, when two Soldiers of the Cross broke into their house. Despite her heroic efforts to save them, both girls were killed. Her son was wounded in the same incident and later died.

She was mourned as, "A singer of hymns and prayers, a speaker of supplications, a declarer of 'Pittum HaKetoret' and the Ten Commandments." Dulcie may have been one of the first of a group of women known in the Yiddish speaking world as the "fizogerins" or foresayers. These women led the women's congregation in the balcony of the synagogue while the men prayed below. They had to be learned enough to read aloud and to trabslate the prayers from the Hebrew to the vernacular for those congregants who did not know Hebrew. Many of them wrote their own prayers or supplications (called techinot/techines) for the women's congregation.

...One can't help but wonder what the brou-ha-ha is all about these days when a woman sews a Sefer or when women conduct their own services. Apparently it was acceptable 900 years ago. Any thoughts?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The majority of Orthodox Jews had orthodox great grandparents. The majority of conservative Jews had orthodox great grandperents. I would bet serious money, there is probably not too many conservative Jews that had conservative great grandparents, or who have conservative greatgrandchildren. The movement has no honesty. While it claims to follow orthodox halacha according to the lenient view, anytime "halacha" needs to be changed for convience, a conservative Rabbi merely writes a convaluted "tshuvah" justifying the most prohibited acts in the torah, and POOF! halacha changes. Try the tshuva on homosexuality for example. Every orthodox source quoted holds that it's punishable by death. The author goes on to fantasize that the Torah prohibition against homosexuality is only referring to idolatrous ritual homosexuality (bring no coherent proof thereof), and then claims pikuach nefesh, because he considered suicide as a teenage closet homosexual. Therefore homosexuality should be permissible. This flushes the word and spirit of Torah down the toilet. G-d tells us to do things he wants us to do. Not things that we want to do. Thats why we say "We are servants of the Holy One blessed be he." Doing what you want is not serving G-d, and trying to be equal when G-d did not create men and women to compete as equals, he created them to complement each others. Therefore men are generally stronger to work and support a family, and women can have babies and nurse them, and men cannot. Because G-d did not create them to be equal, he created them to do his will. Adopting social liberal causes that have destroyed the family unit and a good chunk of society in effort to promote artificail equality, does not advance his will. RabbiDave

4:08 a.m.  
Blogger Yoel Natan said...


In response to "RabbiDave," and as a point of clarification: Aviel (my wife) and I are somer/et mitzvot and our home community is orthodox. We are not affiliated with the Conservative movement in any way.

That said, I would dispute RabbiDave's claim that the Conservative rabbinate is uniquely bereft of integrity. We have at least three personal friends who are Conservative rabbis, who are every bit as shomer mitzvot as our friends who are orthodox rabbis, and who don't hold by every tshuvah that has ever been written by a guy out of JTS. Moreover, if the precedent of tshuvot challenging the (Evangelically-influenced) status quo halakhahic position on homosexuality, or of tshuvot consisting in faulty and politically-motivated rationalization, invalidates the whole of Conservative Judaism, then orthodoxy as a whole is no less "dishonest" -- for there are tshuvot by orthodox rabbis that challenge the status quo on homosexuality, and there are tshuvot by orthodox rabbis that consist in faulty and politically-motivated rationalization.

I encourage every reader of Aviel's blog to hold enough Ahavat Yisraeyl in his/her heart to be patient and not prejudge us or each other. We all have much more to learn, B"H.

12:13 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

I'm not sure how your comments are related to my post, RabbiDave (readers: this is not the same R' Dave I refer to in my blog), however I would encourage you to refrain from using my blog as a forum for criticising Jews who don't make the same choices as you do.

1:15 a.m.  

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