אנונימית היתה אישה| Anonymous WAS a woman 2006-2010 & 2013-2015
Anonymous Was a Woman is a durational performance of scribing a Torah scroll, the most sacred ritual object of the Jewish people, that took place over two time sequences: 2006 - 2010 and 2013 - 2015. My embodied practice of scribing inserts a non-dominant body [female] into a male space and thereby subverts the aspect of the Jewish patriarchy that, by Jewish law, essentially forbids women from writing. Talmud Bavli Masechet Gitin p. 45:B / תלמוד בבלי מסכת גיטין דף מה עמוד ב A Torah scroll, tefillin, or mezuzot that a min (heretic), a masor (traitor), an idol worshipper, a slave (non-Jewish), a woman, or a minor, a kuti, or a Jewish mumar (son of a kohen who married a woman who is forbidden to him), are invalid [to write a Torah scroll, tefillin or mezzuzot and such scrolls written by any of the aforementioned shall not be used to fulfill the mitzvah of a public reading]
This performative practice reinserts me into the arc of a Jewish tradition and indigenous craft from which I, and bodies like mine, have been erased. The scrolls I write are scribed collectively with other women, asserting a feminist lens on making that is collaborative, non-hierarchical and which breaks from the traditional male model. The need and capacity to create new spiritual protocols for women scribes that include inquiries into menstruation, mikvah (ritual bath) and anonymity of the scribe [ Torah scrolls are not signed] offer space for developing and inserting feminist approaches in traditional, ritual practices.
Anonymous Was a Woman is in direct dialogue with artist, Helene Aylon’s The Liberation of G-D in which Aylon has inserted herself in the Five Books of Moses by highlighting in pink marker passages which offend her feminist and humanist outlook. “I highlight over words of/vengeance, deception, cruelty and misogyny,/words attributed to/G-d/… I do not change the text/but merely look at this dilemma,” Though I am not changing the text of the Torah, I too am inserting the female body in this practice and writing myself [women] into the narrative and larger discourse on women in contemporary Jewish practice.
And, yes, the work is anonymous.