Rabbi Aaron Lichter never doubted what his life’s work would be.
“My father was a sofer,” a Torah scribe, he says. “My grandfather was a sofer.” And his great-grandfather. They all plied their trade in Tomaszew, Poland, a town in the west-central part of the country.
So Rabbi Lichter, who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and works on the Lower East Side, became a Torah scribe three decades ago, after training with his father for three years.
His sofer’s business is called A-1 Sofrim.
“I enjoy working with Torahs,” says the rabbi, who rents an office on Grand Street. “It’s Torah work.”
Rabbi Lichter does repairs on existing scrolls, and writes the Scroll of Esther and the biblical text found inside tefillin. The work is done on parchment, in the traditional manner that the sofrim in his family before him did.
A scribe’s business is slow these days, he says. “The economy is hurting us, too.”
Now, Rabbi Lichter is working on a scroll he estimates to be 200 years old, from Hungary.
At least four generations of Lichters have worked as Torah scribes. Have any of Rabbi Lichter’s sons indicated an interest in making it five? “Not yet,” he says.