Meet Rachel Jackson: Soferet, Designer, Artist
October 2021 Keeping Connected
I remember learning in rabbinical school that every Jew is commanded to write their own Sefer Torah (Torah scroll). The Talmud teaches that this commandment is actually the last mitzvah found in the Torah and the Talmudic scholar Rava, (3rd-4th century sage) based this on a passage from Deuteronomy 31. In this text, Moses and Joshua were commanded: “So now write this song and teach it to the children of Israel. Set it in their mouths, so this song will become a witness for me among the children of Israel.” (Translation by Richard Elliott Friedman). In time, this mitzvah came to be interpreted in many ways and most people fulfill this mitzvah by either helping to pay for the actual writing or purchase of a Torah scroll for their synagogue.
When I learned about this mitzvah I was very inspired and imagined that at some point in my life I would learn the traditional Hebrew calligraphy of the Torah scroll as well as the many rules that guide the scribal artist in creating a scroll. This past summer I had the opportunity to put my big toe into this process when I studied with a soferet named Rachel Jackson. In addition to being a bookbinder, designer and artist, Rachel is a full-time scribe and wonderful teacher. Below my letter you can learn more about her and see some of her work at the links provided.
A Torah scroll should be checked every few years to make sure that it is in good condition. In this way, small repairs can be made before any larger problems develop that might make the scroll unkosher. This year, I am excited that Rachel Jackson, will be coming to our community at the end of October and early November, to review our scroll and make any necessary repairs. She will also be leading education programs for the students in our school as well as the adults in our community. Keep a look out in the weeks ahead for more information regarding her visit to our congregation. I hope you will join us for this amazing opportunity.
Rabbi Shoshana Perry