Women's Torah Project

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Background

Shoshana Gugenheim
Shoshana Gugenheim, soferet

A Women's Torah?

Kadima, now an affiliate of the Reconstructionist movement but at the time an independent Jewish community in Seattle, Washington, had been raising money to purchase a Torah of our own for years. Used Torahs in good repair can be purchased for around $10,000, although even that modest goal seemed perennially out of our reach. Scrolls that aren't kosher because they are worn, unreadable in parts, or otherwise not repairable cost less, but using a non-kosher Torah isn't really... kosher. New scrolls can cost $30,000 and up, depending on the skill and reputation of the ritual scribe.

In 2000 Kadima's Judaic Director suggested that Kadima commission the first Torah ever to be scribed by a woman. That brilliant vision was soon tempered with the discovery that the reason there haven't been any woman-scribed Torahs is because there haven't been any female Torah scribes. Serendipity intervened: Kadima’s new rabbi knew a woman who had almost finished the course of study to become a qualified scribe, or soferet. Voila—Kadima could make history.

Scribes and artists come forth

Kadima underwrote the costs for two accomplished Judaic artists to complete their training to become qualified Torah scribes. Artists from around the world stepped forward to contribute all of the artistic accoutrements for the Women's Torah—yad, mantle, breastplate, crown, wimple, and clasp. A noted poet, translator, and Judaic scholar contributed the blessing.

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