Monday, August 25, 2014

A sofer

SCRIBE WATCH: We've recently had female scribes and even a robo-scribe, but it's been quite a while since we've had a specific profile of any male scribes, so for the sake of gender and bioorganism parity here's one now: The methods used to maintain Judaism's most sacred texts trace back to the time of Moses (Kevin Hardy, Times Free Press).
Yochanan Salazar is constantly afraid.

Salazar is a sofer, a Jewish scribe fluent in the faith's most important text, the Torah. He's trained both in writing new Torah scrolls and repairing ancient Hebrew texts.

This week, he started repair work on Torah scrolls at B'nai Zion Congregation, a Jewish synagogue on McBrien Road. Over the next two years, he'll repair several of the congregation's scrolls, some of which were penned more than a century ago.

The work is meticulous. But it's also humbling, he says, as he carefully crouches over the text, his nose just inches away from the very word of God. He dusts each page with tissues, wipes a cleaner over them and uses a quill to fill in faded letters.

"The truth is it's scary," Salazar said. "It constantly creates a sense of awe. It's an amazing feeling every time I do it."