Friday, May 25, 2007

A Weaving Detour

In 2004 when my friend told me that her grandson's Bar Mitzvah would take place in November of 2005, on impulse, I volunteered to weave his tallit. I had no idea of the significance of that offer but I soon found out. I started researching the tallit, its significance, and any rules for making one. It turns out there are few rules. They can be any size, any color, and any fiber as long as certain fibers are not mixed. I also taught myself to tie the tzittzit which are the tassels at each of the four corners. They are the only part of the tallit with religious significance and they must be tied in a certain way. So, Robert chose his colors and the pattern he wanted and I wove his tallit and eventually realized the emotional significance. It will be his for life and, if he is not buried with it, it may be passed on to one of his sons.

His Hebrew name is embroidered on the atarah around his neck . . .

. . . and I made the kippah from fabric woven on the same warp.

And now - the detour. It's 18 months later and Robert's younger brother, Jared, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah last Saturday. Like his brother, he also chose his colors and pattern and I have been furiously weaving to finish his tallit in time.The pattern he chose is an overshot pattern I love called Blooming Leaf. He also chose more conventional blue and white for his colors. On Robert's tallit I added a few rows of orange as a surprise since I wouldn't let him have an orange tallit. Jared's surprise was silver and brown., He's a major chocolate lover and I thought he'd appreciate the reference to chocolate kisses.

Again, his Hebrew name was embroidered on the atarah.

I finished the tallit on Tuesday in time for a photo op with the torah on Wednesday and with days to spare before the Bar Mitzvah. By now, I probably know more about tallit than the vast majority of African-Americans and more than most of my Jewish friends. I also realize the significance of this piece of tradition. Both boys were thrilled, I think, and acknowledged me during their homilies and I must say I'm proud to have contributed to this significant event in their lives.

This detour has gotten my weaving juices flowing but I must get back to the UFO list. I hear the quilted magnolia calling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Phyllis -
Thanks for sharing your two beautiful tallit. They have so much meaning when I read your words and see the pictures. I hope one day to also weave a tallit for a grandson and/or grandaughter. What a special friend you are!