By Francis Michael Lee
Mid-October marks the one-year anniversary of a milestone event that occurred at a Seattle-area synagogue: a reading of the first Torah scroll (equivalent to the first five books of the Old Testament) ever commissioned to be written entirely by a group of women.
Why was this a breakthrough?
Since the earliest days of Judaism, the role of scribes has been filled by specially-trained males. A decade ago, Kadima, Seattle’s progressive Reconstructionist Jewish community, chose a path never travelled in the Jewish faith: encouraging women to serve as scribes. How did this happen?
Rather than buy a Torah or continue to borrow them as they had been doing for many years, Kadima audaciously chose to raise the funds necessary to train women to be scribes in order to begin this groundbreaking work. With leadership and congregational support, The Women’s Torah Project was born, history was made, and breakthrough change happened.
As individuals, we can take something away from this: no matter how entrenched traditional roles may be, they are changeable. With commitment, courage, and support, breakthrough change is possible.
To create breakthrough change in your own life, consider this simple stone ritual:
Find a pocket-sized stone from your yard, or wherever you walk, that will be comfortable to carry. Carry this stone with you for three consecutive days, and on each of those days, for 15 minutes, close your fingers around the stone and contemplate these questions:
Which traditions or limitations—including any self-imposed ones—are keeping you from experiencing life more fully?
Where, in the many communities that you’re part of, are you being limited?
What is calling you to be audacious?
Who or where might your support come from?
What would your life be like if breakthrough change happened?
At the end of the third day take action: become your own scribe! Create uninterrupted quiet space, and with your stone in one hand, record all that has surfaced for you. Next, create your own “scroll”—an intentional, clear plan of action toward your breakthrough change. Then daily refer to, modify, and work your plan!
About the author: Francis Michael Lee is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant and organizational consultant. He lives near Seattle with Kelly, the Wonder Dog. A former New Thought minister, he now serves by facilitating change in individual and organizational life utilizing ceremony and ritual. Creating a space for healing in the midst of loss—whether literal death, or the many figurative deaths we experience in life—is the work that he finds most needed, and most rewarding. significantceremoniesnw.com