This winter, the Goodman Family Judaic & Archival Museum features a beautiful exhibit of hand-made tallitot.
The tallit is the symbol of Jewish adulthood. At Temple Israel, the grandparents of the b’nai mitzvah celebrants present them with a tallit at the beginning of the service, thereby passing down Jewish identity, commitment and tradition from one generation to the next. In modern Jewish life, the tallit is also a symbol of religious freedom and equality of women in prayer. Over the last few years, the organization, Women of the Wall, has fought to allow women to be able to wear a tallit in prayer at the wall in Jerusalem. Because of this, Temple Israel’s Rosh Chodesh group, led by Rabbi Marla Hornsten, decided to make their own tallitot in solidarity.
The tallitot made by the women of the Rosh Chodesh group are made from a simple process of silk dyes. Each woman tied her own tzitzit and decided on a prayer to be stenciled onto the fabric. Most of the women chose to write the shema, reminding them of God’s oneness in their lives, and their unity with the women throughout the world.
Several of the tallitot and bags, made by other members or for members, reflect the techniques of hand-beading, needlepoint, painted silk and embellished fabrics.