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, January 31, 2005



What *he* said. You may disagree, but can't a girl feel super-lucky?

Friday, January 21, 2005


My first pasul mezuzah

January 2005: my first pasul mezuzah. The error is pretty obvious for anyone who knows their Sh'ma, so anyone who guesses gets a lolly (& no, not having completed the text is NOT the error I'm referring to - that's just when I realised I'd made the mistake, so I stopped writing...)

Anyway, this was intended for my first Rabbi, Victor Reinstein, who heads a brand new shtibl in Jamaica Plain, Boston. So now I will have to begin again on Sunday (sigh), but it's all in a day's - or week's - work. Actual size is approximately 12cm/4.75" square.

& if anyone has the idea to print this image, altho' I don't know why, PLEASE treat it with care as it contains some of G@d's holy names.

Have a beautiful Shabbes, all!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005



& no, I'm not talking about the Kuzari. Check out Birobidzhan for the colorful history & only then have a look at the Official Government Site of the Jewish Autonomous Region of Siberia, which still exists today.
Unbelieve-a-kuh-kuh-buh-buh-kle ;+>

Tuesday, January 18, 2005



This Talmud reference is how I feel after emerging from the Mayim Chayim, the living waters...I can see my unveiled neshamah in my shining eyes those tranquil moments.

Monday, January 17, 2005



A few months ago, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, gave a posthumous award for "constructive dissent" to Hiram (or Harry) Bingham,IV. For over fifty years, the State Department resisted any attempt to honour Bingham.

For them he was an insubordinate member of the US diplomatic service, a dangerous maverick who was eventually demoted. Now, after his death, he has been officially recognized as a hero.

Bingham came from an illustrious family. His father (on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based) was the archeologist who unearthed the Inca City of Machu Picchu, Peru in 1911. Harry entered the US diplomatic service and, in 1939, was posted to Marseilles, France as American Vice-consul.

The USA was then neutral and, not wishing to annoy Marshal Petain's puppet Vichy regime, President Roosevelt's government ordered its representatives in Marseilles not to grant visas to any Jews. Bingham found this policy immoral and, risking his career, did all in his power to undermine it.

In defiance of his bosses in Washington, he granted over 2,500 USA visas to Jewish and other refugees, including the artists Marc Chagall and Max Ernst and the family of the writer Thomas Mann. He also sheltered Jews in his Marseilles home, and obtained forged identity papers to help Jews in their dangerous journeys across Europe. He worked with the French underground to smuggle Jews out of France into Franco's Spain or across the Mediterranean and even contributed to their expenses out of his own pocket.

In 1941, Washington lost patience with him. He was sent to Argentina, where later, he continued to annoy his superiors by reporting on the movements of Nazi war criminals.

Eventually, he was forced out of the American diplomatic service completely. Bingham died almost penniless in 1988. Little was known of his extraordinary activities until his son found some letters in his belongings after his death.

He has now been honoured by many groups and organizations including the United Nations and the State of Israel.

Our individual duty is to honour the memory of this brave, righteous and honorable man who, during his lifetime, was never recognized for the moral and courageous man he was.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005



In a previous post, I inadvertently wrote a sentence that was not clear about the Halakhah of women writing & fixing Sifrei Torah & as a result some people got the wrong impression. For that I apologise & will write more exactly about it now (& no, I'm not sure where the post is. My blog is long enough that I don't have time to go through it all looking for a single sentence I wrote I don't know when).

I said something to the effect that my synagogue asked a sofer to repair a couple of Sifrei rather than have me do it (actually, the owner of the Sifrei made this request). I had commented that not everybody holds by the same position about women being kasherot to write &/or those woman-written/repaired Sifrei being kosher for public kria. This lead someone to think that I was misrepresenting Orthodox Halakhah & they told me so. So please allow me to clarify what I meant to say more clearly:

When I said that not everyone held the same position on this issue, I was meaning *everyone*, as in Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Reform, Athiest, Renewal, Humanist, whatever. My intention was NOT to assert that there are various *practices* based on the different opinions within Orthodoxy only. If I gave anyone else that impression, I apologise. Please, if you're ever not sure about what I'm stating, or disagree, feel free to comment.

My understanding on this issue so far is:
According to traditional sources (I won't call them "Orthodox", because that's revisionist) there are some important voices in Halakhah that state women are kasherot to write Sifrei Torah, & some that appear to understand those Sifrei may be kosher for public ritual use. However, no Orthodox congregation that I am aware of is at this point willing to in fact use a woman written/repaired Sefer in this way.

Although I do want to point out that Rebbetzin Dulcie of Worms used to re-sew & patch Sifrei for her community in Germany 900 or so years ago, & that wasn't a problem. Perhaps engaging with the otiyot is the unspoken issue..?

Hope I cleared that all up sufficiently. If not, just yell.

Chodesh tov!

Sunday, January 09, 2005



“And All Your Children Shall Be Learned” Women and the Study of Torah in Jewish Law and History"> – Shoshana Pantel Zolty
1993 Jason Aaronson

P 145
There is also indirect mention of a... female scribe in the Genizah documents: we are told that the Jewish community of Daquq (today called Tawuq), Iraq, was headed by Azarya, ‘son of the female copyist.’ He was praised by the Hebrew poet Judah al-Harizi for his noble descent and character as well as his munificence.”*

* Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, vol. 2, p.184

Friday, January 07, 2005



I caught an NFB documentary on the Knowledge Network (channel 5 here in Vancouver) called "Shinny: the Hockey in All of Us". It brought back old memories of skating on the neighbourhood pond behind Lona's house when I was in grade 3, & of all tennis & basketball courts in public parks having the hose turned on them as the weather froze so we could skate outdoors for free all winter in Prince George. You'll notice that *every* single picture on the site is snowy. That's because we had 2 seasons there - Winter & July. We have an 8mm film of our family playing "crack the whip" on one of those frozen rectangles when I was 3. I miss Dad. He was the real skater in the family. Quite the hockey player, too.
& here I sit at my desk with 4cm of snow outside, a rarity on the Southwest Coast, & with no time to play in it, appreciate it, skate...
Very melancholy today.
You know there's a place in Metulla called "Merkaz Canada". If you flash your Canuck passport, you get in free. That's right, all the hockey, swimming, skating, whatever they offer, all gratis.
I wish I lived in a simple small town in Saskatchewan right now, like Shaunavon, instead of a big, complicated city like Vancouver.

Thursday, January 06, 2005



(from the USCJ web site)
"The tsunami in South Asia and the tremendous devastation it has brought in its wake has deeply affected us all, and it is hard to find words to express our sympathy and sorrow. Rabbi Shai Held has written a beautiful prayer seeking to put into words what we are feeling in the aftermath of this terrible disaster. The prayer can be found here. It would be a meaningful addition to our communal liturgy in the weeks ahead."

I would just like to add personally that we musn't forget that the tunami has caused death & destruction as far away as Somalia & that they need help too. We must also not allow the tragedy in Southeast Asia make us forget about the genocide still going on in Darfur. There are many opportunities we are given to be mensches, to behave as Tzadikim, which G@d (who caused this earthquake & tsunami) expects us to respond to concurrently. Let's rise to the challenge the Holy One gives us.

Monday, January 03, 2005



Dear Friends,
I write to you in the midst of the mounting humanitarian disaster effecting Southeast Asia. As we are the only Jewish service agency in the country dealing with this catastrophe, our offices and staff have put everything else aside, working 24/7 to assist those in need. I therefore turn to you for urgent help in funding our humanitarian efforts during the crisis.

Chabad of Thailand has responded to the crisis by dispatching Rabbi Nechemya Wilhelm to the scene of the tragedy in Phuket to aid in the rescue efforts. The three Chabad Houses of Thailand staffed by six full time Rabbis and twelve Rabbinical trainees have been turned into crisis centers where survivors can come and place phone calls home, or try to find their friends as of yet unaccounted for, have a free meal, receive funds for new clothing and medical help as needed.

Chabad volunteers are standing by at the local hospitals to visit the injured and provide them with kosher food and any other help needed. The Chabad Rabbis and their wives are also counseling the survivors who are in a state of emotional trauma.

Chabad is providing free international phone calls to those who wish to call home and inform there loved ones of their whereabouts. The free Internet service available at the Chabad centers is functioning as usual.

Between our three Thailand locations in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Ko Samui, we have fielded several thousand phone calls from Israel, trying to help families locate their relatives. We have been instrumental in notifying Israelis in Thailand who have not been affected by the quake, to contact their families back home. The Israeli Consul in Thailand, Yakov Dvir, contacted Rabbi Wilhelm for help in locating hundreds of Israelis who are stranded in the ravaged seaside towns of Thailand. Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom acknowledged that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has sought Chabad's help in locating Israeli citizens in Thailand.

As the initial efforts of search and rescue wind down the grim work of identifying bodies and counseling bereaved families will keep the Chabad staff fully occupied in the immediate future. In addition we are helping clothe, feed and accommodate the survivors of this natural disaster who are appearing at our doors in Bangkok as they slowly try to make their way home.

The initial estimate of expenses incurred to our organization as a result of this Tsunami is in the tens of thousands of dollars. Since we don't have prior experience, it is possible that hospital expenses as well as transportation of bodies for burial may also become a significant expense as the situation unfolds.

Please contact us at phone number (24 hours for emergencies) (661) 837 7618

Or email 

Thanks in advance for your assistance in this most important Mitzvah

To help us in our humanitarian mission of Ahavat Yisrael and Tzedaka in the aftermath of the Tsunami please click here to donate online at

Banking Details:

Citibank N.A.

830 Port Washington Blvd

Port Washington, NY 11050


ABA(Routing) # 021000089

account # - 77859470

American Friends of Chabad of Thailand

Bangkok Bank

Head Office 333 Silom Rd Bangkok

Swift code BKKBTHBK

Telex # TH82638

Acct # 101 5580788

Acct name:

Joseph Kantor for Lubavitch






Rabbi Shai Held wrote the following prayer to use for last Shabbat, but I think no time is like the present:

Avinu SheBaShamayim, Adon Kol HaMa'asim, Ribon Kol HaOlamim, Rachem Al
Kol Eleh HaSovlim Min HaMayim HaGo'ashim VeHeGalim HaRo'ashim.  Chamol
al Ma'asekha-- Habitah Hashem, URe'eh Tzaratam; Ha'azinah, Elohim,
UShema Tza'akatam.  Chazek et Yedei HaMatzilim, Nachem at Ha-Aveilim,
Refa Na LaPetzuim.  Chonenu Binah VeHaskel Leida et Chovoteinu,
uFetach et Libeinu LeMa'an Noshit Yad el HaNidka'im. Barkhenu Eloheinu
VeNelekh BeDarkekha, Rachmanin Benei Rachmanim.  Tein Banu Ometz
VeChochmah Lema'an Nimna Ason VaMavet; Mena Mageifah BeOlamekha,
VeKayyem Ma'amerecha: "VeLo Yihyeh Mabul Od LeShachet et HaAretz."
Amen, Ken Yehi Ratzon.

Our Father in Heaven, Ruler of Creation, Master of the world: Have
mercy on all those who are suffering from the raging waters and the
storming waves.  Have compassion on Your creatures-- Look, O Lord, and
see their predicament;  Listen, God, and hear their cries. Strengthen
the hands of those who would bring relief, comfort the mourners; heal,
please, the wounded.  Grant us wisdom and discernment to know our
obligations, and open our hearts so that we may extend our hands to
the devastated.  Bless us, our God, that we may walk in Your ways, and
be "compassionate ones, children of compassionate ones." Grant us the
will and the wisdom to prevent disaster and death; prevent plague from
descending upon your earth, and fulfill your words, "Never again shall
there be another flood to destroy the earth."  Amen. So may it be your

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