Thanks for the Giving
Thoughts from scribe-in-residence Julie Seltzer on what she's writing, her process, and the experience of writing a Torah on public view.
Thanksgiving is here again!
And Thanksgiving means turkey.
And turkey means feathers.
And it goes without saying, of course, that feathers means quills.
Last year at this time, a friend went to a local farm where they kept turkeys. This friend knew I was learning scribing, having observed my collection of stray Canadian goose feathers from the grounds where we lived. He brought me back a whole bunch of feathers.
“Might you use these?” he asked.
Thank you. I very well might.
One year later, I’m about to christen a Thanksgiving feather for use on the Torah.
There is an interesting custom that I heard from Linda Motzkin, attributed to scribe Eric Ray, of waiting a full year after a bird has been killed to use its feathers for sacred writing. It is not permitted to kill an animal in order to use its feathers or its skin for writing, and the year-long wait time verifies that the purpose of the killing was not for feathers.
I like this tradition. Plus, the added personal challenge: could I keep track of these feathers for an entire year?
Full disclosure, just one feather of the bunch remains–it’s a long story, involving a rubber band and a twice-stolen vehicle–but the important thing is that there is one left. It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving has come back around again. It’s also hard to believe that I’m writing a Torah, one year after this casual gifting. My thanks of giving to the bird and feather deliverer, for assisting in carving words of Torah…