Talking with #MakeItHappen Micro Grant Recipient Jamie Shear!

  • Team Schusterman

January 28, 2014

For 23 years, Jamie Shear has been fully immersed in the world of Hebrew letter arts. As a Hebrew scribe, Sofer Stam, he has completed 8 Torah scrolls and as an artist focusing on micrography and ketubot, he has explored various mediums to reveal the beauty of the Hebrew letter.  Jamie’s idea to host a series of Hebrew scribal arts workshops in Jerusalem was recently chosen to receive a $1,000 #MakeItHappen micro grant! To read more about his project and to volunteer to help him #MakeItHappen visit Jamie’s idea page.

What three hashtags would you use to describe yourself? #TorahScribe #SoferShear #TorahScroll

What inspired you to apply for a #MakeItHappen micro grant and what do you hope it will achieve?   As a scribe, I am familiar with two pulls on my identity: artist and entrepreneur. A Torah scribe is an artisan, but if he were to renounce entrepreneurship, he wouldn't find success. For me, I choose to classify my profession as social entrepreneurship. A Torah scribe, similar to a Jewish educator, is grounded in community. This #MakeItHappen micro grant will allow me the freedom to fully embrace this concept and work as a social entrepreneur. I wish to portray the Hebrew scribal arts as an expression of human inspiration and creativity as well as Jewish practice. I aim to inspire Jewish students by sharing my experience and understanding of the laws and practice of this ancient Jewish art form, which is both prevalent and relevant.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? What gets me out of bed in the morning is the idea that each day is brand new and the possibilities are endless. Each morning I look forward to the moment when I will sit at my art table holding my quill and write the Hebrew letters that will be used in sanctity and meaning for another individual, family or community.

What is one change you want to see in the world?   I would like to see an increase in mindfulness, care and empathy in the world.

What is the biggest risk you have taken and how did it pay off?   The biggest risk that I took was to leave my family, community and clientele in Montreal and move to Israel. It pays off every time I think of the all new possibilities and experiences that have arisen as a direct consequence of my move. Applying for and being the recipient of this #MakeitHappen micro grant for instance, would not have occurred if I hadn't made Aliyah.

Have you ever failed before and what lessons did you learn?   What I have learned is that highly successful people--including every historical hero--has failed many more times that I will ever know.

Who are your heroes?   My heros are Abraham, Moses, Josef, Rambam, Nicolaus Copernicus, Gerardus Mercator, Einstein, Joseph Greenstein aka the Mighty Atom, Rabbi Akiva Greenberg, (a personal Rabbi) Ilan Ramon and Edgar Bronfman.

Where do you find solitude? I find solitude at my work table and in nature.

Where do you find community? I find community at my kids school, praying at shul on Shabbat and during Shabbat Kidush time.

If you had to give up one modern convenience what would it be and why?   If I had to give up one modern convenience, it would be my cell phone because I am concerned it may have long-term radiation effects.

What is your favorite Jewish memory? My favorite Jewish memory is having a Passover Seder with my grandfather, of blessed memory, at my mother’s home in rural Ontario. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of connectedness and inner joy.

The Schusterman Philanthropic Network is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.