La vie soferet – Rodeph Sholom

A very Rodeph-Sholom couple of weeks.

Rodeph Sholom, for those not intimately familiar with Manhattan’s Upper West Side Jewish Scene, is a Reform synagogue of epic proportions, with after-school religious school program, and eponymous Reform day school a few blocks away. I have the good fortune to visit them relatively often.

Week before last I was giving an enormous crowd of second-graders a bit of an Introduction to Torah Writing with pieces written by one of my students for demonstration. (SEVENTY of them, my goodness. Impeccably behaved, too.) I was telling them about how you’re not supposed to kill an animal specially for making Torahs out of it, the cow has to have died for something else, and one of them said gravely “Ah…cow recycling?” which was sublime and a phrase I will definitely be using in future.

The third-and-fourth-graders were very pleasant as well. At the end, I let everyone come up and try to break the gid, the thread that’s used for sewing the panels, and one of the girls actually managed it. So I gave her the broken bit, she deserved it!

And then last week the b”mitzvah prep class, which is a whole rather excellent thing in itself; the shul does a package of six sort of meta-sessions where the kids and families get to think about What and Why and suchlike; space given over to consciousness which might otherwise be swallowed in details of Torah portions and party planning. I would think it was a pretty neat idea even if they didn’t have me at the first session giving people a close-up encounter with the Torah scroll — joke — but seriously, it’s rather lovely to be able to say to these families “You’re about to put a lot of effort into reading from this thing. Here’s why it’s special” and share a bit of Torah-scrollage with them.

With a bit of bonus Torah-fixing — rolling up afterwards, I noticed that one of the reinforcement strips was coming loose, and I had my soferet field kit with me so I could just glue it back down. And then I noticed some pencil marks on the back of the scroll that would be better off removed, so I did those too. In the book of Bereshit — next time I’m there we’ll be in Shemot, so I expect I’ll do Shemot then.

NYC = good place for soferet to be.

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