Torah scribe wields her quill against segregation of women

On a small desk, squeezed between a closet and a wall, the writing of the first women’s Torah scroll in Israel began a few weeks ago. The scribe, Hanna Klebansky, says she hopes the writing and reading of the scroll will send a message contradicting that of the segregation of women.

Klebansky is hardly the stereotypical Torah scribe. She is 39, born in Georgia in the former Soviet Union, and was ordained a Conservative rabbi in Israel. A musician by training, she is also an instructor in courses for chaplains to the terminally ill. After her five children go to sleep, she begins her scribal work, line after line, column after column.

It was as a student at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem that she discovered the scribal world, at first as an enrichment course a few sessions long, and later during a year’s study with a teacher. The teacher, amazingly, was an ultra-Orthodox man who was formerly secular and apparently taught all 17 women Torah scribes worldwide.


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