There are rules, codified in Shulchan Aruch, about how to write a sefer Tora, Torah scroll. An Orthodox congregation's sefer Tora is written in the prescribed manner by an Orthodox sofer — someone who has studied the rules and received permission from his teacher to be a sofer. What about other congregations'? Do they use Orthodox-written scrolls, or do they have their own systems of sofer education, or can anyone decide to write a scroll, or do they not use scrolls at all, or what? I'm trying to get a general understanding of the writing of Torah scrolls for non-Orthodox congregations, divided up, as necessary, by 'denomination'. (I know that no one rule will apply to every congregation, that there will be exceptions.)

  • I'm pretty sure JTS offers sofrus kabbala.
    – Double AA
    Jul 25, 2013 at 16:02
  • FWIW, my Reform congregation's sifrei torah were all written by Orthodox sofrim, and when we need to make repairs we use an Orthodox-trained Conservative sofer. In principle we'd have no problems with another sofer (who's properly trained), but in practice we don't have them, at least locally. Jul 25, 2013 at 17:00
  • @MonicaCellio, if I'm not mistaken, your anecdote could be a valid answer to this question.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jul 25, 2013 at 17:50
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    @IsaacMoses "I'm trying to get a general understanding.... (I know that no one rule will apply to every congregation, that there will be exceptions.)" -- so an anecdote, though interesting (thank you, MonicaCellio), doesn't really answer the question.
    – msh210
    Jul 25, 2013 at 17:52
  • @IsaacMoses, I thought he was looking for something more comprehensive (since confirmed), hence a comment rather than an answer. I don't have time at the moment to do the extra research work but at least wanted to offer that tidbit. Jul 25, 2013 at 18:05

2 Answers 2


In the vast majority of cases, Torah scrolls are written by Orthodox sofrim. Though there are ideological/halakhic reasons for this in some cases, the main reason is simple market share. Most of the people who have dedicated their lives to writing Torah scrolls are Orthodox. This is the same reason that most kosher meat is slaughtered by Orthodox shochtim and most tefillin is checked by Orthodox sofrim.

There are several scribal present-day courses of study that produce scribes that some Orthodox Jews would feel uncomfortable with. Notably, Jen Taylor Friedman trains female scribes, and I believe JTS has a post-ordination program in safrut. There have been trained sofrim in every denomination (and non-denomination), but by-and-large, even non-Orthodox congregations tend to use Orthodox-written ST"M.

  • Thank you! Can you edit in information on your source of information (how you know this), please?
    – msh210
    Jul 25, 2013 at 18:26
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    @msh210 Unfortunately, the largest claim here is pretty much just anecdotal life experience and conjecture. I can edit links that refer to the varied programs, etc., but I can't really give a good statistic or source on "vast majority". Jul 25, 2013 at 18:31
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    Can't have a mention of Jen Freidman go by without linking to the most amazing piece on her site: hasoferet.com/scribal-arts/my-get
    – Double AA
    Jul 25, 2013 at 23:26
  • The Reform shul I attend in Toronto has commissioned a Torah from female sofrot, all of whom are trained in the laws of safrut and are writing it with the deepest sense of respect and yir'at shamayim (I'm terribly surprised to hear what Eytan Yammer wrote below!). The well-known British sofer Mordechai Pinchas (www.sofer.co.uk) began his work in the Reform/progressive movement, although he no longer identifies as Reform. The only other male Reform sofer that I know of is Neil Yerman. Jul 26, 2013 at 21:04

There are at least 2 Reform Jews who write Torahs.

The problem is that at least one of them uses a marker and not a kulmus (quill pen). I have seen this person correct, finish, and "fix" a Torah scroll like this with my own eyes.

  • There are (at least two) Orthodox rabbis who say that all but sheimot can be painted on. See kashrut.org/scrollproject... That being said, I haven't heard of Reform sofrim using markers. Jul 26, 2013 at 21:11
  • Why do you have to use a quill?
    – Double AA
    Jul 27, 2013 at 18:41
  • @Charles they are using a very specific method, not to be generalized to other ways of applying ink on a larger scale.
    – Double AA
    Jul 27, 2013 at 18:42
  • @DoubleAA I'm well-aware that a lot of thought has been put into that project to make it halakhically acceptable. Jul 28, 2013 at 4:44
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    @EytanYammer It is certainly not. Many Sefardim write their STa"M with a reed tip.
    – Double AA
    Sep 1, 2013 at 21:13

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