Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Something I found interesting...

Thanks to reading "R"'s blog, I came across this interesting individual. (Interesting to me anyway...) Aviel Barclay is a woman trying to do what she loves, and what she loves is Soferut (Jewish Ritual Calligraphy) She is by her own label a Soferet. (The term for a female Sofer - something that it is unclear if there even has been one in the past. ) You can check out her Blog here.

So what's my connection besides the human interest story? Well, it seems that it is controversial as to whether or not female Soferut is allowed. See article from the Forward Here... In that article you'll see if you read close that "according to Dov Linzer, head of academics at New York's Chovevei Torah rabbinical seminary, the Talmud clearly states that women are not allowed to write a Torah scroll for ritual use. Linzer pointed to an oft-cited passage (Tractate Gittin 45b) that specifically includes women among those who cannot produce a kosher Torah scroll."

IM"H I'll be attending Chovevei this coming year. Chovevei gets a lot of slack for being "too open" and having an "agenda contrary to classical orthodoxy". It has even been stated that suspicions loom that Chovevei hopes to ordain women Rabbi's . (See responses to the Cardinal Visit from my earlier post...) Now... I don't know about you, but a female sofer seems less controversial then a woman Rabbi... Though of course I know little of the relevant Halacha. So this story kind of eases a little of my concern that one day my school would be seen as nothing more then another JTS (Jewish Theological Seminary - The Conservative movements flagship rabbinic school.) and that my Smicha would not be accepted as Orthodox. I think this can serve as a clear sign that the school knows the boundary of Halacha and isn't willing to cross it, period, even while maintaining a commitment to openness and inclusion of women as much as possible.

I do wonder however what his take would be on women Soferetot who would not write for ritual use... Guess I'll have to ask him when I get there. Anyway, regardless, her commitment and passion are admirable and inspiring even if her finished product can't be used for ritual purposes, and her artwork is nothing short of fantastic. I wish her continued growth and success.

Chag Samayach

1 comment:

Girl Seeking said...

Avriel's one of my favorite people to read, and she actually posts a number of rebuttals that say that it is possible women *are* allowed to be Soferet, so it'll be an interesting conversation to watch evolve over time.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that it being a mitzva to calligraph a scroll, women may fulfill the mitzva by calligraphing one for "study" purposes. As a data point for your entry.