Women's Torah Project

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History

Aimee Golant
Aimee Golant, artist for the Torah's crown

Look how far we've come

Since the summer of 2003, the Women's Torah Project (WTP) has grown from a pretty dream to something bigger than we had ever imagined. Commissioning the first Torah in history to be scribed by women is an audacious task for an organization of any size. For a small community like Kadima, it's one of the most ambitious ventures we've ever undertaken.

The WTP would have stayed a just a pretty dream were it not for a lot of hard work (we had no idea!), no small bit of luck, and the financial support of a growing international network of donors. Frankly, we sometimes pinch ourselves that we've come this far. When we see a completed yeriah (panel of parchment), or read the story a supporter sent along with fabric for the Torah mantle, or admire the detail and symbolism of Laurel Robinson's yad—we're encouraged, energized, and inspired. We want to share that energy and inspiration with you, and thank you for bringing the Women's Torah to life. So far, we have:

  • Underwrote training for some of the first female Torah scribes.
  • Drawn internationally known artists to contribute their work to the project.
  • Completed about one-third of the Women's Torah.
  • Developed supporters in 3 countries and 31 states, plus Washington DC.
  • Raised over half of the funds we need to complete the first Torah in the world to be scribed by women.

Other history-makers have joined us. We are greatly honored to count Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first woman rabbi ordained in the United States, and Cantor Mimi Frishman, one of the first woman cantors, among our project supporters. The Women's Torah Project has connected with makers of future history, too—several youth and study groups have sent tzedakah to the WTP, and many donors have chosen to honor a bar or bat mitzvah youth with a contribution to the project in their name.

Some contributors support this work because they want equal-opportunity Judaism. Others hope their daughters and sons will see unlimited possibilities wherever they look, or want the contributions of their great-great-great-great-grandmothers to resonate as strongly as those of their forefathers. Whatever draws supporters to this project, we are profoundly grateful.

Our work, however, is not yet done. There are now four sofrot contributing to this historic work, and more may join in before the Torah is complete. The story of the first Torah known to be scribed by women is still being written, and we can expect new stories, dialogue, and poetry along the way.

 

Women's Torah Project milestones

2000
  • Kadima decides to commission world's first female-scribed Torah
2003
  • R. Fern Feldman researches relevant halachah
  • R. Harry Zeitlin opines, “The real question isn't ‘Can a woman write a kosher Sefer Torah?' but rather, ‘Why has it taken so long for this new era to begin?'”
  • Kadima underwrites final training of the world's first known soferet
  • Torah materials purchased
2004
  • First scribe commences her work on the historic Women's Torah
  • Laurel Robinson creates yad and case for WTP
  • Sooze Bloom deLeon Grossman designs Torah cover
  • First fabric donated for pomegranate seed motif cover
    First three yeriot are completed
2005
  • Aimee Golant signs on to make crowns
  • Andrea Sher-Leff agrees to craft wimple clasp
  • Kadima underwrites Shoshana Gugenheim's final training to become a soferet
  • Fund reaches $50,000
2006
  • Shoshana Gugenheim begins her scribal work outside of Jerusalem
  • Rachel Reichhardt joins the project and begins her scribal work in Sao Paulo, Brazil
2008
  • Linda Coppleson, from West Orange, NJ, joins as the third scribe
  • Lois Gaylord, weaver and fabric artist and member of the WTP committee, offers to weave bimah cloth for the Women's Torah
  • Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg joins the project as rabbinic advisor.
2009
  • Elka Freller, a jeweler and metalsmith from Sao Paulo, Brazil, offers to make a kiddush cup
  • Poet, liturgist and visual artist Marcia Falk donates Creation Mizrach to WTP collection
2010
  • Women's Torah and all embellishments completed and celebrated during the siyyum, Oct. 13-16

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