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Showing posts from March, 2010

“That’s Julie Seltzer! I Invented Her Too!”

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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.

As I walked from the exhibit hall to the museum lobby, I stopped in my tracks when I saw the man walking up the stairs in the opposite direction. Rav Landes?!

Rabbi Daniel Landes is the director of the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, the yeshiva1 I attended in Jerusalem ten years ago. I have seen him a few times since then, on visits to Israel, but he was one of the last people I thought I’d run into in San Francisco, and at the museum no less!

It turns out that he was just as surprised to see me. Over coffee, he reported on his experience taking a museum tour. The docent pointed out the Hebrew word פרדס (Pardes), which is written out in very large structural letters on the entrance wall of the museum. Pardes means orchard, and represents four different levels of understanding the Torah, from the surface level to the most hidden level. The to…

The Whole Megillah

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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.

What does a scribe dress as for Purim? Why, a megillah, of course!

This past weekend was Purim, when, among other less holy activities, we read Megillat Esther – The Scroll of Esther. Megillat Esther must be read from a parchment scroll, making it a favorite holiday for scribes!

Writing Megillat Esther is often the first big undertaking for a scribe. For the most part, the same rules apply as apply to Torah, though some authorities allow for more leniencies, such as permitting decorations in the margins, and special flourishes with the crowns (called taggin). Additionally, Megillat Esther contains no names of God – so the newbie scribe does not have to worry about all of the rules and weightiness associated with writing a Name.

We talked about this and more, as we shaped Hamantashen – the traditional Purim cookie – at last week’s baking class [the n…