Keeping it in the family, Rabbi Zimmerman speaks with her daughter Rabbi Rebecca Hornstein, newly ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Rabbi Hornstein speaks about her personal and professional path to the rabbinate, and her passion for sofrut, the Jewish scribal arts. Learn about the intricacies of writing God's name and rewriting the words of the ketubah, the Jewish marriage document.
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An edited excerpt from this week’s Temple Talks follows below.
You’ve really taken up this artform of sofrut, Jewish scribal arts. How did you get into it? How did this intense passion emerge?
Sofrut has been a powerful spiritual practice for me, as art too has always been. There’s something that happens when you’re doing something creative in that you become a vessel for and partner with the divine in a more embodied way. You get in that weird time warp when you get in the zone creatively. You say “wow I made that” but you also feel like you didn’t make it alone in a way.
Creation is something that happens all the time. When we do creative things we become part of that act in a more direct way.
I discovered sofrut this past year from a friend at RRC, Rabbi Rebecca Richman. I was so interested in what she was doing with this visual medium. I was never so connected to singing the prayers. I found a way into prayer but it never was a natural fit like visual art was. So I was excited to find this visual and spiritual art form within Judaism of sofrut.
I got connected with a teacher and just found it all to be really powerful. There’s this rich tradition in Judaism of scribing and the laws surrounding it. I liked the idea that you could have a discipline within your spiritual practice and follow in the footsteps of people who have also connected to God in that way. What a lot of Jews find in prayer, I found in scribing.
I like that there are these rules with a whole theology behind it. The Keset HaSofer is a book that covers the laws for scribes. It opens up by basically saying, be careful scribes! Scribes can create worlds and destroy worlds! You have to really follow the rules. It is powerful, magical stuff here.
There’s a big tradition in Judaism of letters really having power, and God existing in the Torah and in the written word. So it’s not something to take lightly that you’re bringing that into the world.
If you make mezuzah it has to look like mezuzot have looked forever. And you know there’s all these rules for how to write the name of God because God is there in that name that you write. You have to be careful, pause, have an intention or kavanah. You have to say a prayer and really get into the mindset to bring God into the world. I like that mystical part of it too.
Welcome to Temple Talks, a new podcast from Temple Israel in Minneapolis, where Jewish wisdom meets our ever-changing world. Join us as we talk with our favorite partners and thought leaders, from around town and around the world. We hope these talks will inspire you, challenge you, and give us all new ideas about Judaism, religious life, and social justice. Join us for services, learning, and community at TempleIsrael.com.
What is Temple Talks?
Welcome to Temple Talks, the podcast of Temple Israel in Minneapolis, where Jewish wisdom meets our ever-changing world. Join us as we talk with our favorite partners and thought leaders, from around town and around the world. We hope these talks will inspire you, challenge you, and give us all new ideas about Judaism, religious life, and social justice. Join us for services, learning, and community at TempleIsrael.com.
Join the conversation with Rabbi Zimmerman, Rabbi Klein, Rabbi Hartman, Rabbi Moss, and Cantor Abelson.
Join us for services, learning, and community at TempleIsrael.com.
We welcome questions and comments directed to TMoss@templeisrael.com