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diary of a sofer - part 13

Mordechai Pinchas Sofer

A copy of a GCSE textbook on Jewish Studies dropped through my door. A complementary copy, as I had provided an article and photos about sofrut. Iíve never been in a textbook before so its quite odd to think that anything I have done will be studied as part of the National Curriculum and they say that standards havenít dropped! Being serious, it was perhaps the best expression to date of the educational element of the activities I have been undertaking as a scribe and one of the nicest surprises was to find that adults and children alike seem fascinated by the whole thing.At the time of writing I have done about 7 sessions on sofrut from a CCJ meeting in Cambridge through Hebrew classes Ďlessonsí, and a brief visit to my own sonís primary school at Purim. With all the Ďkití itís sort of a very elaborate Ďshow and tellí and itís great to watch the expression on kids faces when you pull out a large piece of parchment where you can still make out the cow blotches on the back or a piece of animal sinew, and they realise what it is.

gcse article link

Click on the graphic above to go to the article itself (182k).

I take the groups through the various tools and activities, but can really only scratch the surface, but even this is often greeted as new information as the scribes art is almost viewed as a kind of black art, when it really isnít. Itís also great to get people to have a go at forming the letters. They always say they canít do it, but they always can!

A memorable moment was when I asked a group of children how many of them had been on the internet and every hand sprang up (I guess even if they hadnít been on-line no one was going to admit to it). Then I asked how many of them had done anything Jewish on-line, and every hand, as one, went down. Bit sad really as the community really does need to get with it to communicate with the youngsters in the medium they relate to. This website is an attempt to counter this and the great thing about this are the people who e-mail me with questions and comments from places as far and wide as the USA, Israel, Slovakia, Holland and North-West London (and for an Essex lad like me, that last one is perhaps the most exotic) such as the nice e-mail from an Israeli lady whose son had found the site useful for his homework!

One of the new elements of this website is a mezuzah challenge where I have digitally doctored a mezuzah to include a mistake in every line. Within days the challenge had been met by a visitor from Mexico, Aldo Zamudio,  who found every error but also told me that he wasnít Jewish. Needless to say I was most impressed with his abilities, but again it is a great example of knowledge crossing all barriers.

And to top it all, I get educated too. I mentioned in an earlier diary all the halachot pertaining to sofrut and I have been studying the laws, the commentaries and the super commentaries and even working on a translation of one of the key works.

Iíve always been involved in Jewish education in some way and this has been a very happy by-product of sofrut which came as a bit of surprise, but a very welcome one.

Mordechai Pinchas 

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