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An All-Woman Sefer Torah

An All-Woman Sefer Torah

Usually, it takes about a year to write a Torah scroll.

Usually, it costs in the neighborhood of $10,000-$30,000 to write a Torah scroll.

Usually, a Torah scroll is written by a single scribe.

Usually, that scribe is a male.

The ceremony that dedicated and welcomed a new sefer Torah last week at Kadima Reconstructionist Community, a worship group in Seattle, was not usual.

The scroll created for the Kadima was the handiwork of six women in three countries — Israel, Brazil and Canada. It took seven years and nearly $100,000 to make Kadima’s scroll. The members paid for the training of two of the women to become scribes, while the four other sofrot trained on their own.

Three of the scribes — from left, Linda Coppleson, Rabbi Chana Klebansky and Rachel Reichardt — examine the scroll, above.

“We had the idea 10 years ago, but when we looked around for women scribes, we realized there weren’t any,” Kadima member Wendy Graff told JTA.

The finished product, used on Shabbat for the first time, is the first sefer Torah owned by Kadima, which had borrowed scrolls in the past.

Seven female artists made the ornaments that decorate the Torah.

“Jewish learning and text was my entryway to Jewish practice and spirituality, and continues to be one of the primary ways I connect,” Julie Seltzer, one of the scribes, told JTA. “To be this close to the text, on the elemental level of the letters, is extraordinary.”

In Seattle, it also is usual.

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