Soferet [videorecording] : a special scribe /
Reel Time Inc. and VisionTV present.
Toronto : Vision TV, c2005.
1 videodisc (48 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.
More Details
added author
Toronto : Vision TV, c2005.
credits note
Writer, producer & director, Donna & Daniel Zuckerbrot.
general note
Stereo ; widescreen format 1.85:1.
Aviel - born Alison Barclay, in Prince George, B.C. - has been fascinated by ancient cultures, symbols and religion since childhood. When she saw Hebrew letters for the first time, in the movie Fiddler on the Roof , "they looked like fire to me". By the age of 10 she had taught herself the Hebrew alphabet, and soon after began to take up calligraphy. Though raised a Christian, Aviel never felt at home in church, and in time drifted away from religion. But as an adult she found herself drawn to Judaism. Ultimately, she chose to convert and enter the Orthodox community. At this same time, Aviel rediscovered her childhood interest in Hebrew calligraphy, which led to a realization: More than anything else, she desired to become a soferet (a female Torah scribe). There was just one catch: Scribes have always been men. Always. When Aviel went looking for a sofer to instruct her, she was turned down again and again. "I was told by one that I would better serve the Jewish people by getting married and having children". Eventually, Aviel managed to find a willing teacher in Jerusalem. And more recently, she garnered her first commission: Kadima, a progressive Jewish congregation in Seattle, has asked her to create for them a sefer Torah , a specially hand-written Torah scroll. No other woman in Jewish history has been charged with such a task. Donors from all over the world are helping to support this undertaking. The project is controversial to say the least. Many Jewish authorities believe rabbinic law forbids women from writing a Torah scroll for ritual use. But others interpret the law differently. "The Torah is meant to be a living organism", says Rabbi Fern Feldman. "Judaism was never meant to be rigid". For Aviel, this project is not about feminist politics - it is an act of faith. As her husband Joel Rothschild tells the filmmakers, "She is not doing this for reasons of ego, or for reasons of spite - She believes she has been given this work to do by God". Says Aviel: "I just have always felt that I was meant to do this".
Through the centuries, women have commanded armies, governed empires, scaled mountains and ventured into space. But Aviel Barclay plans to accomplish something no other woman in history has done: to create a Torah scroll. Why has this soft-spoken Vancouver artist and calligrapher taken on a task that challenges century upon century of Jewish tradition? This hour-long documentary is an intimate account of the personal spiritual journey that has led Aviel to pursue what she believes is her destiny. The film is also a compelling portrait of a faith community struggling to balance progress with tradition, and an examination of what the Torah - the holiest book in Judaism - means to the Jewish people.
catalogue key
target audience
Not rated.
technical details
DVD, region 1.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem