Monthly Archives: January 2012

eBay Torah

Today’s parchment: a bit smooth and slippy, so I want to treat it with gum sanderac before writing. It’s a resin that you grind finely and rub into the parchment. Grinding gum sandarac in a cereal bowl with a spoon is annoying, because so much of the gum sandarac sticks to the surface of the […]

Did I mention I love my job?

This morning I’m writing chapter 14 of Exodus: And Moses stretched out his hand, and a strong wind blew all night, and dried up the sea. And the children of Israel came into the sea on dry land, and [this bit is recited with the special tune for the Song of the Sea] the waters […]


I see, updating the progress meter, that we’re at 25%. A quarter of the way there. Still a long ways to go, but I feel like we’ve got a nice big chunk done now.

Bo and parchment

This week’s parsha contains the phrase “The Torah of God shall be in your mouth.” Rabbinic tradition expands this concept: if we are to put the Torah in our mouths, it obviously cannot be made of things that we may not eat. So all animal products used on Torahs are made from the kosher species. […]

Mazel tov Hanna

Dear everyone, Thanks for all the emails. No-one else needs to send me the article about Hanna, okay? Yes I know her, yes I’ve seen the article(s), we’re good. Hanna recently started her first complete sefer Torah; she works in Israel, which makes her braver than me, given how hard it is in Israel for […]

Tools and travelling

I generally write at home in Manhattan, on a sloping table (good for your back), but sometimes I feel like getting out of the apartment. As many of you will have seen by now, a Torah scroll starts out as individual sheets of parchment upon which I write. The sewing together of the sheets into […]

Sefer Shemot and the Semitic Scripts

The start of Sefer Shemot finds us in Egypt and returning to the story of the alef-bet. In Egypt, as everyone knows, they wrote with hieroglyphs, an intensely complex system of writing based on pictograms. Literacy in hieroglyphs is relatively hard to attain; literacy also endows power, such that an Egyptian scribe occupied an elite […]

Vayehi–a bit of a chat

Well, this has been a busy week. As well as working on your Torah, I’ve been apprentice-master-ing–my sometimes-apprentice has winter break from her yeshiva, so she’s back being my apprentice, which means I’m spending a good deal of time supervising her. I’ve got a number of other women I’m invested in in this way. It’s […]