Writing a Torah One Letter at a Time

This past weekend, Sophie, Bryan and I had a rare and humbling experience. Our Jewish congregation — in honor of its 150th anniversary — is creating a Torah scroll for the synagogue. The three of us were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to dedicate a letter in the Torah and be present when it was written.

The Torah – also known as the Old Testament – contains the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). Jewish religion teaches the entire five books were revealed to Moses by God at Mount Sinai. The Torah is written on one long continuous parchment scroll by a sefer, or Torah scribe. Soferet (female Torah scribe) Julie Seltzer is writing the Torah for our congregation. She is only the second woman in the world to write an entire Torah scroll.

Bryan and I chose to dedicate one letter in the Torah to Sophie. As a result, we were able to sit with the scribe as she explained to us the letter we were writing. We were given the letter Mem, the thirteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, which symbolizes water and flow.  We then recited a blessing, and held each other’s arms as Julie dipped the feather in ink and wrote the word in the Torah.

This experience is one I will always treasure. It is humbling to see that during modern times of e-books and iPads, Torahs are still written by scribes who dip their feather pens in ink and write by hand. As a writer, I can certainly respect that. I feel honored and blessed Bryan, Sophie and I were given this opportunity to not only see the Torah being written, but also be a part of the scroll by dedicating the letter to Sophie. I am proud she will always be a part of the congregation’s history. And I can only hope she looks back at this experience with as much awe as I feel now.

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