Expanding the Vision
What was born several years ago out of Torah-borrowing fatigue has grown into a history-making, life-changing, and bridge-building endeavor, the scope of which continues to expand. In 2003, when Kadima underwrote the training for one of world's first sofrot (women Torah scribes), our motivation was to secure a Torah of our own while acting on our values of equality and inclusion. We were excited to be at the forefront of change, a position Kadima has held in many circumstances over the years. We knew we were partners in creating something historic, but did not expect the multiple branches this project would sprout, even within our own community.
Artists began approaching us, offering to make exquisite artifacts for this groundbreaking Torah. Donations were made in honor of daughters who found paths between secular and religiously observant parents, in memory of mothers who had volunteered at synagogues for years yet had never been allowed to read Torah, in the name of babies who would grow up knowing that women could be cantors, rabbis, and Torah scribes.
It began to dawn on us that this project could become a catalyst for astonishing and consequential change. The Women's Torah could be far more than a feminist statement and a religious object. It could be a symbol of opportunity for women to move into all areas of Jewish life. It could bring together progressive Jews from around the world. It could be a link between art and politics, spirit and culture, artifact and symbol.
The Women's Torah Project is already about more than creating a Sefer Torah, although that would be enough. It is about more than opening doors for women called to meaningful work that has been denied to them for millennia because of their gender, although that, too, would be enough. It is about transformation, about building connections, about bringing people closer to Torah by bringing Torah closer to them.
Kadima went into this project assuming that one soferet would complete the Torah. For a variety of reasons, we began to seek other women who were interested in becoming qualified—a real possibility today because of the door Kadima helped to open. The idea of multiple scribes penning the work now feels even more right for the project than a sole soferet. The Women's Torah will be physically created and adorned by a collection of women, supported every step of the way by other women and men around the world. It will be born of, and into, community.
Since the project's inception Kadima has looked forward to sharing this Torah with the world, including bringing it to Israel; using it as the cornerstone of a Seattle-based conference on Women, Torah and Progressive Judaism; and partnering with a museum to exhibit the Torah and its inspired clothing and accessories. The initial impetus—to have a Torah of our own—has not been lost, but it is clear that the physical Torah we are creating will belong to a world larger than her birth mother.
The community of the Women's Torah will bridge cities and countries. It will bridge intellectual, spiritual, political, and artistic domains. It will be a symbol, not an artifact. It will be another catalyst for transforming Judaism, and those of you who have helped make it possible will be at its heart. We are deeply grateful for your continued presence on this journey.