Sunday, January 06, 2008

590. Sofrut, Off The Land

A great article in The Forward:

Female Torah Scribe Lives Off the Land, Religiously

about Rabbi Linda Motzkin of Saratoga Springs, New York, who is not only one of a handful of female Torah scribes working today (these two are the others I know of), but also makes her own materials from scratch, from the land. Only men can openly purchase the supplies needed to be a sofer (or soferet) and write a Torah:

"Motzkin, who refused to obtain the tools of her holy trade under a pretense, turned instead to her own backyard, drawing on the townspeople and the environs of Saratoga to fashion her own materials.

Motzkin makes her own parchment out of deerskin, bounty given to her by local hunters, fashions quills from reeds or bird feathers, and ritually immerses herself in a neighbor’s pond. The ink she uses was a gift from her teacher, but she is working with a congregant to brew her own. So far, they haven’t made a batch to her liking, but she’s still trying."

According to her bio, she's also a co-author of the textbook through which I'm happily struggling in my Biblical Hebrew class, The First Hebrew Primer: The Adult Beginner’s Path to Biblical Hebrew. This book has slowly but surely opened many hidden doors for me (more about this in future posts). To be able to make language accessible through art as well as meaning--an amazing gift and calling.

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