One of just two Torah scrolls ever to be written by women from beginning to end will spend the next couple of months in Palo Alto.
Created by Julie Seltzer while in residence at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, the "As It Is Written: Project 304,805" Torah scroll is on loan to Congregation Etz Chayim through March 4.
Rabbi Ari Mark Cartun said the museum invited congregations to apply for a chance to host the Torah scroll. The Torah scroll has also made stops at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville and Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco.
"My job is to make Judaism exciting as well as understandable. I figured that this is one way to make people pay attention to something that has become very familiar," Cartun said.
The notion of women writing a Torah scroll is unusual in Judaism, even though more and more of them are becoming rabbis and cantors, according to Ellen Bob, Congregation Etz Chayim's executive director. The Torah scroll, which contains the Five Books of Moses, is the most holy and important object in Judaism.
The task, which takes considerable training to master, has been performed by men for the past 3,000 years, Cartun added.
"Our congregation is 100 percent egalitarian, but there are certain things you just don't find," he said. "Even if you wanted to, you couldn't get a Torah that was written by a woman because there weren't any."
Seltzer started work on "As It Is Written: Project 304,805" in October 2009. Over the course of 18 months, she filled 62 sheets with 248 columns, 10,416 lines and 304,805 letters.
The Torah scroll will see regular use during services at Etz Chayim, Cartun said.
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