Feathers, we use them to fly

Jen and Julie, quill-wearing soferot

Jen and Julie, soferot

I’ve mentioned, from time to time, my student Julie.

Julie came to meet me one day in Manhattan a couple years ago, looking oh-so-very timid. I recognise the look; it’s the one I wear when I’m in the presence of a Great Brain, where I cannot quite believe my own temerity in bothering the August Personage with my vastly trivial affairs. Except of course I do not expect people to wear that look around me, so I made haste to be as friendly and lovely as I possibly could.

Once she realised I don’t bite, she worked hard as hard, and just shot ahead. You could see her progress from week to week, and she’s got a rare head for halakha as well. She even enjoyed learning the really hard parts with me, the bits that I’ve never learned with anyone before because they’re so convoluted it takes a particularly clear head to get through them.

That was a treat for me, an absolute treat – but Julie’s also an incredible feminist; she insisted on paying me for lessons even though I was probably getting as much out of them as she was half the time. In so doing she taught me some very important things about how getting paid and feminism interrelate.

So it was my utter pleasure to receive a phonecall a while back from the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco, who were looking for a scribe for a rather exciting exhibition, because I could recommend Julie most wholeheartedly.

And actually it’s rather lovely; people I know vaguely keep coming up to me – at shul or in the supermarket or wherever – and going “I was in San Francisco last month and…” and they tell me about how they saw Julie and how super she was, and I get to go “squee bounce I know!!!”

And she’s working her way through the Torah, slow and steady, just as you might expect; and I hear great things about how she gives presentations and talks to people and explains everything ever so clearly and nicely. All good.

So why this post today?

Because today I’m helping her and her NEXT employer write a contract, and there’s a certain bittersweet feeling when you wouldn’t have minded being in further negotiations with that project yourself! But this is the true success – when your students become your colleagues, your equals, your competition. And that is, ultimately, wholly sweet.

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