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, April 12, 2006


14 Nisan

Tonight is the first seder! It's mitzvahs a go-go!

I'm going to try next week during chol ha-mo'ed to find the time to blog about my fabulous sofrut trip to upstate NY, where I did this, this, this & this. But there's more - I actually got my hands dirty learning how to prepare hides to become kosher qlaf/parchment, so I'm well on my way to becoming a full-service soferet S"M :)

What you may not know is that I have to order all my supplies through my sofer, as nowhere on the planet knowlingly sells sofrut supplies to women...yet. & I am unwilling to purchase from them by lying. Risking non-access to my materials is an unnacceptably vulnerable position for any business or career to be in. Besides, getting anything from Israel, even by courier, can be a real circus. Thus, in order to fully prepare each item required in sofrut, I have begun doing, not just learning. I learned how to make qlaf & gevil (another type of skin I'll talk about later, with pictures!), but now I will be able to actually make them, thank G@d.

There're photos of the mechanical process of qlaf-making here, at Sofer ST"M Benjamin Cohen's site, just click on "Preparing the Parchment".

"Creation Meditation Circle" copyright A. Barclay. Lightfast ink on vegetable parchment.

May we all come up & out of Egypt, Mitzrayim, the Narrow Place this Pesach to full, responsible liberation from our own chameytz, & realize that it is often our egos, fears, & the Narrow Places of our selves which enslave us.

Chag Pesach Kasher ve-Same'ach, ve-Shabbat qodesh shalom

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Blogger Maggid Sarah said...

As a working woman maggid (maggidah) in the field, I also am constantly up against the choice of lying to purchase my work and ritual needs, or of elarning to make them myself. So far I've chosen to make them rather than imbue my work with the whacked vibrations of "the Lie".

I carved a Yod last year and a woman trope student of mine just wrapped it in beautiful beads and made a matching bag to carry and protect it. Such a holy holy holy way to learn and be present in the world. I thinkwe women are in this position specifically so that we are forced to OWN the process from our womanness (word?) and not to just inherit the system by rote. Can't tell you how many others this empowers in turn to roll up their sleeves and engage themselves in yiddiskeit-- is this why we are commanded to write our own sefer torah? So we have to personally engage the process?

What a powerful and awesome age we live in. Baruch HaShem!

Blessings to you Aviel for this work that you do, and great job with the digital pics-- what a difference that makes, eh?

11:27 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed on the wtp site that the other lady working on your torah is "trained" but not "certified" as you are. Is that right?

10:16 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Blackherring - really? You mean that sofer-place where we went together last summer is selling to you? That's awesome!
Much better than when you used to buy stuff in a sheytl, eh? Kol Ha-Kavod! :D
My offer to pick up Israeli sofrut supplies for you still stands, FYI...

Maggid Sarah - I had no idea. What is it that you are prevented from accessing because of your body?
I hear what you're saying & good for you. That vibe has no place in any thing any where on the planet.
I really appreciate what you're saying about we, as women, having to own what's ours. We have to make it ours because it wasn't gifted to us - given, yes, granted, yea, but not gifted. Men have had time & power to shape things for all of us, & some of those shapes work for women, too (I think), but other things we have to make ours all on our own. To honour ourselves, our experiences & our truths, realities...
Torah is visceral, that I know. So is life. & Torah IS life.
Blessings right back at you, Sarah, & thanks to everyone who helped me & is still helping me do this work :)

Hi, Barbara Ann, & barukh ha-bo'i - welcome to my blog. You're correct in your understanding of the information on that website.

10:29 p.m.  
Blogger Maggid Sarah said...


Well, tzitzit, for one. Both the fringes for tying on, and the garments themselves-- especially in the tallit katan department.

Then there's tefillin, which I haven't figured out how to make yet :) And so still don't have any.

Most everything else, technically, I can procure through the liberal denominations.... until you consider that I'm a hassid aligned with tradtional communities. For me, having to go outside my community to procure ritual needs constitutes a form of "lying" in a way that I don't know how to articulate. I just know that it feels sneaky and unclean to do so. If I'm going to be awesomely present in my spiritual life, then I need to do so openly in the presence of my community and chevre. There's a subtlety here that I can't explain yet, I just know that it's important. In the white fire of torah, nuances and subtleties count and must be heeded. Does this make sense? Maybe not. For some reason though, my ultra-ortho chevre male and female, don't seem to mind my use of traditionally male ritual objects and processes when I follow the path of openness-- even the chabad loft will let me where tzitzit (with raised eyebrows maybe, but tolerance) when I conform to halacha and create a female garment. Liberal chevre, of course, have no problems with any of this-- but I can't be honest with some chevre and not others, spirituality is a full time, 100% gig.
Not the best answer in the world, but it's mine!
Blessings again to you, and to all who pass through this site.

12:21 a.m.  
Blogger Maggid Sarah said...


Also, there is the issue of poverty. And, while this ostensibly isn't a gender specific issue, the reality is that men can walk into orthodox communities and have their ritual needs met fairly easily-- they are encouraged and empowered to fulfill the mitzvot. Whereas a woman will not get this assistance as easily, if at all. It becomes a defacto form of exclusion. (for example, I've been trying to get the male rabonim in Eugene to teach me to lay tefillin since October, and while they say yes, here we are at pesach and it still hasn't happened. If I were a man, I could walk into chabad any day of the week except shabbos, and it would get done, with a loaner pair thrown in to boot)
Beyond issues of ethics in purchasing, the life of an impoverished maggidah means making a lot of your own stuff, that's just how it is.


3:46 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but if she's not certified, thn why are they letting her write part of a torah? and why couldn't she get certification?

3:48 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Sorry, Barbara Ann, but I can't answer that. Best to ask Kadima that yourself :)

12:25 a.m.  

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