Learning Jewish Writes

June 4, 2012 by Michelle Coleman
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Members of the Jewish and wider Victorian communities were introduced to the ancient art of scribing at an event in Melbourne CBD on Sunday. The Hebrew Calligraphy workshop took place under the rubric of Melbourne’s annual ‘The Light in Winter’ festival at Federation Square.

Learning to write - Jewish style

The event was co- hosted by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Magen David Adom, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Vic), sofer.com.au and Spiritgrow.

While strolling through the Atrium, Melbournians and tourists alike stopped to admire the script and parchment of a 400-year old Scroll of Esther, a small Torah scroll, tefillin and a mezuzah.
Spiritgrow’s Rabbi Menachem Wolf was on hand to answer questions about the items and explain some of the mysticism behind the Alef-Bet.

With their interest piqued, participants were then able to have their own names written in Hebrew on parchment by ordained scribe Rabbi Eli Gutnick and student scribe Moshe Broner.

The greatest excitement, however, was to be found at an adjacent table where participants could try their hand at scribing with traditional quill and ink. The opportunity to attempt copying letters in intricate Hebrew script proved to be quite a challenge and led to a greater appreciation of the scribe’s artistry and skill.

JCCV president Nina Bassat AM said: “The Hebrew calligraphy workshop was a wonderful opportunity to showcase our community and traditions in an interactive and fun manner. People had so many questions to ask about scribing and the items on show, and the children loved attempting the letters with quill and ink”.

Having a co-operative endeavour, with a number of organisations working together gave a very special ‘ta’am’ to the event.”

AIJAC events coordinator Helen Brustman OAM added, “Being in Federation Square on  a cold Sunday afternoon, participating in scribing was great.  Working with the co-hosting organisations was excellent, and I was impressed that many people who came to the calligraphy workshop were asking questions about Judaism of Rabbis Eli Gutnick and Menachem Wolf .  Everyone who participated in scribing found it a great and fun experience. “

The workshop was made possible by a generous grant from Melbourne City Council.

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