I have a Blue Peter badge for being a sofer ... yes, you heard it - a Blue Peter badge (see right). How exciting is that?
Blue Peter contacted me because of my work as a sofer. One of the presenters, Joel Defries, was doing a feature looking into his Jewish roots, and wanted to find out more about both Jewish religious traditions, such as Synagogues and the Torah (five books of Moses), as well as the Hebrew language. Following a pre-production visit, the Blue Peter team came round to the house on a cold December morning to film.
I showed Joel the quills, ink and parchment I use to repair Torah (no sticky back plastic is ever used!) and compared the unfixed and fixed areas of a Torah I was currently working on for a synagogue in Bromley. He’d never read Hebrew so I taught him to sing the first three words of Shirat Hayam (the Song of the Sea) - but that bit ended up on the cutting room floor - wonder why? I showed him the Megillat Hashoah (another cutting room floor casualty). Finally I attempted to teach Joel to write his name in Hebrew. Joel in written as Yoel in Hebrew. Joel had a good go at writing it, but the last two letters didn’t come out very well, leaving him as Yo, which he rather liked. (see Yo and me on the right!)
The episode was screened on 27 January 2009 to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day and was a very well made programme with very good graphics and production standards. The hardest thing about filming the segment was making sure that we explained all the Hebrew terms so that a child with no background knowledge could understand what we were talking about.