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In traditional Judaism it is prescribed that only men can be trained to write the most holy of books: the Torah. This practice, which is passed down from one sofer, as the scribe is called in Hebrew, to another, is done with an apprentice style of study. The profession requires a keen eye for detail, a steady hand, and, the devoutness of a Torah Jew.

There has been no space for women in this holy act. Like many customs of ancient and medieval Judaism, women have been left on the outside – watching but not engaging. 

As women and their allies challenged professions within Judaism to open the doors to them, the job of the sofer remained a male-exclusive one. Yet, in recent years, the voices of women have disputed this traditional view, and a few began to embark on the study of this arcane art. They have picked up the pen and put ink to parchment while putting voice to the silent. Julie Seltzer is one of these remarkable women.

Julie is one of the first women in history to scribe an entire Torah. She trained under Jen Taylor Friedman and worked with several scribes in Jerusalem to hone her skills in this precise and beautiful art form. Julie – who has been featured in the New York Times and as an artist at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco will be expounding on her story this Tuesday, June 9, at 7:00 pm in a Federation Zoom presentation Empowerment Through the Pen: One Woman’s Story. You will have a chance to learn about her unique path and how scribing has empowered her spiritual journey and the journey of Jewish women everywhere.

I hope you’ll be able to take advantage of this unique opportunity to spend time with a woman who truly is making history. You can register using the button below (you will receive the Zoom link via email after registering).