Torah scroll that women helped write to be unveiled in Madrid
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Torah scroll that women helped write to be unveiled in Madrid

Hailed as Spain’s first egalitarian Torah, scroll is also the first written from start to end in the country in 500 years

Illustrative: Torah scroll Ink on gevil. Spain, 15th century (photo credit: Green Collection)
Illustrative: Torah scroll Ink on gevil. Spain, 15th century (photo credit: Green Collection)

A synagogue in Madrid plans to present what it is calling the country’s first egalitarian Torah scroll because women participated in its writing.

The scroll is slated to be unveiled Saturday at Congregation Bet El in the Spanish capital.

Gustavo Suraszki, an Argentina-born rabbi and sofer, or Torah scribe, began writing the scroll last year with Susan Lewis, the wife of then-US Ambassador to Spain Alan Solomont touching his arm — her way of participating in the writing process with Suraszki. According to halachah, the Orthodox Jewish law, only men are allowed to do the actual writing of Torah scrolls.

Additional women, including from the Bet El community, joined the effort employing the same technique.

“This Torah is the first written with participation of women in Europe, but also is the first written in Spain from the start to the end, in the last 500 years of the country,” Mario Stofenmacher, president of Masorti Spain and member of the Masorti Europe network, which is having a meeting in Madrid this weekend.

The project was announced last year at the start of the 25th anniversary celebration of Bet El Madrid.

“I can’t find a better present of birthday for our community than this new and egalitarian Torah scroll,” added Stofenmacher, who immigrated to Spain in 1990. “It means our roots and past, but also a strong signal that we have future here as Conservative Jews.”

The new scroll’s completion and inauguration will take place Saturday night and be broadcast live online at http://torah500.com.

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