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Showing posts from November, 2009

Covenant of the Word

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Thoughts from scribe-in-residence Julie Seltzer on what she's writing, her process, and the experience of writing a Torah on public view.
“Is this something men do as well, or are there only female scribes?”

Wow. This question, asked at one of the Q&A sessions I lead on breaks from writing, is on one level so charming. It’s not too hard to imagine that ritual calligraphy would be situated primarily in the realm of the feminine; I could see scribing lumped in the same category as baking and weaving–“women’s art.” But on another level I found the question disturbing, not having anything to do with gender at all.

Baffling Babel

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Thoughts from scribe-in-residence Julie Seltzer on what she's writing, her process, and the experience of writing a Torah on public view.

“You began learning scribing just two years ago. Is this, perhaps, hubris?” asked the reporter.“I’m not sure what hubris means.”
“Arrogance. Over-reaching.”

Ah.

So I’m writing the story of the Tower of Babble: the people were of “one language, of unified speech,” and they aim to build a city that reaches the heavens. Ambitious indeed! In the Torah narrative, this qualifies as hubris, and God makes sure they fail by confounding their language, losing their collective power. And as I’m writing the story, I get a bit confounded myself. Let me explain:

Opening Talk: Project 304,805

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This is a transcript of the talk delivered by Scribe Julie Seltzer at the opening of the exhibition, As It Is Written: Project 304,805. Julie will be periodically be sharing her thoughts on what she is writing, her process, and the experience of writing a Torah on public view.
These words were offered in memory of my mother, Chaya bat Pinchas v'Batsheva.
This weekend is Simchat Torah, the Celebration of Torah, which marks the end of the yearly Torah reading cycle. It feels like a particularly auspicious time to begin writing a Torah. On Simchat Torah we read the very end of the Torah, and then immediately read the beginning, making the Torah more like a circular document than a linear one.