Women's Torah Project

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Scribes and artists

Introducing the artists

Several nationally-known Jewish women artists, highlighted below, are already crafting marvelous accoutrements—the yad, mantle, breastplate, crowns, and wimple clasp—for the Women's Torah.

Yad artist and professor Laurel Robinson recently researched issues relating to scribing and adorning a Torah.


"...The important Jewish concept of Hiddur Mitzvah, “the glorification of a commandment," is the driving force for the creation of our ritual objects. It is permissible to make kiddush in a Styrofoam cup, to light Sabbath candles in tin candlesticks, or to put an etrog in a cardboard box, yet the idea of Hiddur Mitzvah is to construct elaborately beautiful cups, candlesticks, and etrog boxes is to enhance, glorify and elevate the performance of the mitzvah itself. To create adornment for the embellishment of a Torah enhances not only all of the symbolic meaning of the text, but also the work of the human scribe. These embellishments tie the artists to the Torah, to the stories, to the congregation, and to our history...."

Read her full article.


Adorning the Torah

All of the artistic accoutrements for the Women's Torah—the yad, mantle, breastplate, crown, wimple, and clasp—are being donated to the Women's Torah Project. They aren't, however, being made for free. Each piece will take a minimum of many months to complete, and all will be crafted from fine and rare materials as each artist strives to bring the most hiddur mitzvah to this project.

Some artists have donated their pieces directly to the project. These artists are working with Kadima and the Castleman Family Foundation to raise funds to cover both time and materials for these extraordinarily time- and resource-intensive gifts.

To lend tax-deductible support for the artwork, please contribute to the Castleman Family Foundation. Write “WTP Art” in your check memo line and send to: 12831 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, California 90061. For further assistance, call (310) 516-6347.

 

Shoshana GugenheimShoshana Gugenheim Shoshana's unique approach to education and art makes learning with her an adventure in creativity and self discovery. Her diverse background in multi-cultural education and dialogue, ecology, Jewish studies, informal education, counseling, and movement arts allow her to implement the arts in a wide range of environments. She has worked with diverse populations throughout Israel and the United States, engaging the arts as a means for transformation and cross cultural communication. Read more...

Sooze Bloom deLeon GrossmanSooze Bloom deLeon Grossman For me, pomegranates are the most voluptuous of fruits. Round and heavy, filled with hundreds of tangy ruby drupelets that burst between your teeth and saturate your soul, topped with a gorgeous cut crown, smooth and supple in your hand—pomegranates are the perfect symbol of the feminine, of Eitz Hayyim: the Tree of Life, and of our new Torah scribed for the first time by a soferet, or female Torah scribe. Pomegranates remind us of fertility, of life, of our role as co-creators with G-d in the ongoing work of our World, and so it is a pomegranate that will adorn our first Torah mantle. Read more...

Laurel RobinsonLaurel Robinson As an artist and professor in the secular academy, and as a yad maker, I couldn't resist getting involved in this project. The history and art of our tradition, its vast richness and complexity, give evidence that we have come up with just about every angle to every question, every answer, and every possibility for over 3,500 years. To hear that as far as we know a woman has never until now scribed a Torah, struck me as astonishing. Making a yad for a Torah rather than for a specific reader or institution is a wonderful challenge for me, and the honor of making a yad for this particular Torah is great indeed. I am hoping that my work contributes another layer of hiddur mitzvah (the glorification of a mitzvah). Read more...

Hanna KlebanskyHanna Klebansky Hannah was born in the former Soviet Union in the city of Tblisi, to a traditional Jewish family. She studied piano at the National Academy of Music, and in 1995, completed her studies and received an academic degree. Parallel to her studies, she was active in the local Jewish community. A graduate of the Machon Gold teaching certificate program, which operates in the diaspora, she taught in Jewish schools and Sunday schools. Read more...

Aimee GolantAimee Golant I made my first mezuzah cases in 1993, one year after I began the process of learning metalsmithing. I was 20 years old, questioning my faith, a Sociology major, and a sophomore in college wanting to understand how something like the Holocaust could have happened. I wanted to prevent future atrocities like this from occurring. I wanted to preserve a tradition. I wanted to know, how could there be a G-d, given the fact of the Holocaust? My first mezuzahs struck a chord within me to such a degree that I felt a need to make more. Read more...

Andrea Sher-LeffAndrea Sher-Leff ... At five, I remember going to shul with my Great-Uncle Jack and being incensed that I couldn't sit with him... I was bat mitzvah at a synagogue where I was not allowed to touch the Torah, because I was a woman.... Three years ago, while dancing during Simchat Torah celebrations, our rabbi turned to me and handed me the Torah. I was surprised and overjoyed. I was a full participant in the eyes of my congregation. It has been a long journey, a journey full circle... Contributing to the Women's Torah Project resonates deep within me and is fulfilling. Read more...

Marcia FalkMarcia Falk Marcia Falk's blessing for the yad is from The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival (Harper Collins, 1996; paperback edition, Beacon Press, 1999). The book re-creates Hebrew and English liturgy in poetic forms from a contemporary, gender-inclusive perspective. Long awaited in many sectors of the Jewish community, The Book of Blessings was the result of 13 years of research and writing, and includes new blessings, poems, and meditations, accompanied by a commentary intended for general readers as well as scholars. Read more...

Rachel ReichhardtRachel Reichhardt Rachel’s journey to sofrut started with her lifelong love of Hebrew letters, first learned in her Orthodox school. She was fortunate to meet with R. Zalman Schachter during one of his visits the egalitarian congregation Rachel helped to establish in Brazil. “From meditation after those meetings, I decided that I wanted to work in scribal arts, which was impossible to do in Brazil.” Rachel studied at Pardes in Israel where she wrote her first Megillah Esther. Read more...

Linda CopplesonLinda Coppleson In November 2008 Linda Coppleson of West Orange, NJ joined two other scribes on the Women's Torah Project. "I'm so honored and humbled to be accepted into the Women's Torah Project," said Linda, who commenced writing in December 2008. Linda started with the book of BaMidbar (Numbers). "It is particularly meaningful for me to start with Sefer Bamidbar. The narrative of this fourth book of the Torah is about the journey of the Israelites to Eretz Yisrael, and in a way, my journey to become a soferet is about to take me to my “promised land” — to the opportunity to write a Sefer Torah. It's terribly exciting for me," said Linda, who has been writing, illuminating and painting ketubot (Jewish marriage contracts) for many years. Read more...

Lois Gaylord I grew up in San Jose, CA, in a culturally Jewish home. We celebrated Passover and Chanukah, went to services on the high holidays, and my sister and I were sent to Sunday School. Our parents were active in B'nai Brith and B'nai Brith Women. I learned Hebrew during my first year of college and went on a six-week trip to Israel the following summer. Over the years I have also explored other spiritual traditions and practices. About the time that we joined Kadima, I seriously started seeking a way to connect to the feminine aspect of the Divine. I discovered the Shekinah and through study, meditation, and other spiritual practice, have been seeking to deepen my connection to her. Read more...

Elka FrellerElka Freller Elka will be creating a kiddush cup for the Women's Torah Project. She is planning to use silver, glass and Brazilian stone in her work; designing something modern and clean and with significance.) Read more...

Irma Penn Irma Penn Irma Penn Irma is a talented Canadian artist who trained in scribing in Jerusalem. Her love for Hebrew letters drove her to study the way of becoming a scribe, a promise and a dream that took her 40 years to fulfill, but she never lost focus. Read more...

Committee members Without the incredible work and dedication of our committee members, the Women's Torah Project would never have come to fruition. These incredible volunteers have sacrificed immeasurable investments of time, energy, and resources in order to create and sustain the Women's Torah Project. Read more...

 
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