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Joy Serves G*d in Joy as a passionate performing percussionist, poet, publisher, photographer, publicist, sound healer, spiritual guide, artist, gardener and Gemini. "Ivdu Et Hashem B'Simcha" -Psalm 100:2 ....... Joy Krauthammer, active in the Jewish Renewal, Feminist, and neo-Chasidic worlds for over three decades, kabbalistically leads Jewish women's life-cycle rituals. ... Workshops, and Bands are available for all Shuls, Sisterhoods, Rosh Chodeshes, Retreats, Concerts, Conferences & Festivals. ... My kavanah/intention is that my creative expressive gifts are inspirational, uplifting and joyous. In gratitude, I love doing mitzvot/good deeds, and connecting people in joy. In the zechut/merit of Reb Shlomo Carlebach, zt'l, I mamash love to help make our universe a smaller world, one REVEALING more spiritual consciousness, connection, compassion, and chesed/lovingkindness; to make visible the Face of the Divine... VIEW MY COMPLETE PROFILE and enjoy all offerings.... For BOOKINGS write: joyofwisdom1 at gmail.com, leave a COMMENT below, or call me. ... "Don't Postpone Joy" bear photo montage by Joy. Click to enlarge. BlesSings, Joy

Ritual Objects - Tallit, MBA Thesis

Ritual Objects

by Joy Krauthammer 
Arts Editor, Jewish Calendar Magazine

excerpt pages 180-185
University of Judaism MBA Thesis:
Platt Gallery

Blessed are You, Yah, Creator of the universe,
who has sanctified us with your commandments,
and commanded us to enwrap ourselves in tzitzit.

Baruch ata adonai eloheinu melech ha-olam
asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hit-atef b’tzitzit.

We gather together standing under the large tallitot, stretching up and joining them
over our heads forming a continuous circle as we say prayers in our Sacred space. We are in
the Rabbi’s abundant garden, where we celebrate Shabbat. Because B’nai Horin, a Los Angeles member of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal (formerly Renewal Network of P’nai Or Religious Fellowship), is egalitarian, all the women and men may wear tallitot. Until I owned my own tallit, I would borrow one when going up to the Torah for an aliyah. For years, at Jewish art shows, Judaica shops, and artists’ studios in Jerusalem, I examined hand created tallitot, looking to find mine, to satisfy my soul.

I returned from a trip to the spiritual land of Bali with a colorful rayon hand batiked sarong in shades of blueish purple, turquoise, fuscia and grey which I had been covering myself with during shul prayers, but it was not a tallit because it did not have tzitzit (ritual fringe to remind us of the commandments). I remedied that situation by tying tzitsit onto my prayer shawl, transforming it into a tallit. By reading the tallit chapter in the (first) Jewish Catalog, I practiced and taught myself how to halakhically spiral the coils and tie the knots.
In Numbers 15:37-41, it says,

God said to Moses as follows: Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments so they will have generations to follow them; let them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. That shall be your fringe; look at it and recall all the commandments of the Divine and observe them, so that you do not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge. Thus you shall be reminded to observe all My commandments and to be holy to your God. I am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am Yah who is your God.

I needed to make the fringe for myself, with kavvanah, the intention that this tallit will assist me on my spiritual path, in my direct experience of the Divine. I now had my own Sacred space, and for this ritual said the Shehecheyanu blessing. After making the first double knot with the eight cotton strands (rayon unraveled) on the strengthened side corner of the shawl, I precisely wound the shammash (longer working strand) for the first coil 7 full turns, not six 1/2 or seven and 1/2. I decided that if a “cord of blue” is called for, eight cords would be terrific and since I had seen the sea creature used for the techelet dye in Jerusalem’s Temple Institute, I felt I knew the correct shade of blue, the same shade as the shawl.

I felt so proud of my tallit, and at shul as we discussed YHVH (Yud Heh Vav Heh, four-word Name of God), I explained that the symbolism for the numbers of spiral winds, 7-8-11-13 in gematria (numerology), is equivalent to the letters of YHVH and Ehad. We can hold the tzitzit and remember that “God is One.” My spiritual feelings were revealed and increased as I enveloped myself in my tallit, focusing with the kavvanah that just as I wrap my body, so my soul is wrapped in the Divine Light.

Preparing the tzitzit for this exotic tallit was only a prelude to a more significant mitzvah for me. I designed, and my friend Ruth Zitch has created with me, a garment to hold tzitzit. The pre-cut tzitzit wool yarn I used has come from Israel. I have been careful of shatnez (forbidden mixing of species), and have not combined wool and linen. Ruth has lovingly woven ribbons through a woolen piece of material, where she has carefully pulled out weft threads one by one, to create a tallit. She also had patiently pulled all the threads for the bottom fringes. I fringed the tallit, counting and making each fringe a specific number of threads using gematria so that each had meaning.

I chose ribbons of varying widths and textures which contain the colors of the spec- trum. According to Kabbalah, each color represents one of the Sefirot, the Divine emanations through which God’s energy becomes manifest in the world, as taught by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, at a retreat I attended. (They can be found in his book Gate To The Heart: An Evolving Process.)

Ruth expressed feelings of awe, wonderment and joy, at creating a tallit from a plain piece of fabric, one that came to life, danced and increased in enjoyment as it took on its own personality. “This was a healing process,” Ruth explained, as she saw the strong, vibrant colors soften, as if a baby covering, while she finger wove through cream white warp threads, feeling Shechina’s (feminine Presence of God) light. Ruth had already done this for me once before for my daughter Aviva’s bat mitzvah tallit, using pastels, more youthful colors in slimmer widths, and with pearls. Although a very time-consuming procedure, two more tallitot were created for Ruth’s own grandchildren’s b’nai mitzvot.

Ruth and I have talked about submitting my tallit into a future Judaica exhibit, so that others may be inspired by its loveliness. Another friend, Barbara Klaristenfeld, will calligraph in Hebrew, the words I have chosen, my name, Gila Rena Zahara bat Lieba bat Ethel bat Pearl bat Ethel, for the atarah (crown/strip at the neck of the tallit), honoring my matriarchal ancestry. I have personalized meaningful symbols and inscriptions for the four decorative, added corners of my tallit, which my friends participated in painting.

Friends were with me during the final stages of my tying the tzitzit. They were so appreciative to be included in this mitzvah. During the High Holiday services, my friends and Rabbi gathered around me in front of the new ark at my shul for a joyous ceremony acknowledging my new tallit. They all learned the meanings of this contemporary artistic creation, an authentic traditional ritual object. Now my tallit is also used as a prayer canopy to cover my friends at shul.

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols by Ellen Frankel and Betsy Platkin Teutsch, published by Jason Aronson, is an excellent resource to study and choose symbols for Judaica reflective of one’s own needs and interests.

Hiddur mitzvah, the commandment to beautify Jewish ritual objects, partially motivates me to create Judaica. It is my need for devekut, to cleave to God, and fulfill my mission to do tikkun olam (repairing/healing work on earth) which inspires me. I am stimulated in my need to create Judaica, vessels and instruments for women and for our daughters to use, because historically, biblically, and religiously, we have been forgotten and ignored for so long. It is a need to reclaim our Jewish heritage. It is a way to honor our foremothers and to provide continuity and tradition l’dor v’dor (from generation to generation). Shechina dwells within myself, a Sacred space from which creation emerges.

Shul friends responded when I asked what their tallit meant to them: “Tallit is protection and a safe space. Tallit is a personal Sacred space for prayer. Tallit is like the arms of Shechina surrounding and hugging them. Personal tallit carries energy of their own self. Tallit guides them to their inner self. Tallit is used in sickness and healing.” During the 1993 P’nai Or Kallah,
 a spiritual participant stricken with AIDS was lying on a woven wool tallit and was covered by
a hand painted silk tallit, during a healing ritual I had participated in. The Sacred space for healing was created.

On my last trip to Jerusalem, I saw that a potter friend’s wife from Tennessee had a delightful feminine kipah (head covering). When I questioned her, she responded that it had come from an artisan in Los Angeles. I informed the woman that this very Moroccan artisan, Annette Sabbah, has one of her kipot on exhibit in the Israeli Museum in the new Women of Valor permanent exhibit, and that now Annette is creating tallitot, as well as other Judaica.

Annette has conceived tallitot as I have never seen them before. They evoke many moods and personalities, and flowing with lush creativity, they invite the wearer to explore them as they are in rich combinations of ethnic or subdued textiles ranging from wools, cottons, silks, tapestries, brocades, velvets and lace. Each one is Jewishly decorated with artwork of beads, Hebrew calligraphy, pearls, rhinestones, etc. Matching tallit bags are available.

There are even more varieties of adornments for Annette’s well known modest, cute, sophisticated or fancy kipot. Her Negev Kipah (with rope, tassel, coins) captures a biblical feeling and her own heritage, including growing up in Beer Shevah. Annette’s trademark is the metallic crocheted “Star of David” in the center of each kipah. I think my favorite whimsical one continues to be that which resembles a feathery streimel.

I have asked Annette to share her thoughts about what she feels while creating Judaica. Abraham J. Heschel once wrote, “The dignity of being a Jew is in the sense of commitment.” Annette states, “I suppose to some this might mean a lifelong dedication to a special cause, to a synagogue, a family, or to the study of Torah.

“To me, these words, “a Jew of commitment” take on a clear and simple meaning in rela- tion to my creation of Judaica. As far back as I can remember, the creative need, impulse, urge or gift was with in me since the age of 10-12. Drawing, painting and writing poetry in French, then in Hebrew became a passion. And always, feelings of awe, wonder, and anticipation of great mysteries within and around me still to be unraveled, still to be created, still to be discovered in the recesses of my mind and my heart, that would in time fuse together, crystallize and emerge to be given shape, form and ultimately life through my art.

“The awareness that my creative strength would from now on derive and be nurtured from the very essence of my being: That of being a Jew, dawned on me about 10-12 years ago. Maybe it had been there all along. Maybe it was the foundation, religious and academic. Home was religious and traditional, and schooling was Beit-Yakov, an orthodox, all girls school in Israel where I studied Torah, Mishnah and Nevi’im, and still thirsted for more.

“I think in trying to analyze the reasons behind the specific lines I am creating today, such as the women’s Judaic headwear, women’s tallitot, and the new contemporary and hand painted chupot, is to simply conclude that it was a idea whose time had come.

“Never have I felt so commited spiritually and physically to the creation of Judaica in as many possible art forms as I could possibly master, more specifically the commitment to beau- tiful, different, contemporary religious garments for girls, women and men. My creations are to be worn around our bodies, crown our heads, adorn our homes and sanctify and embellish our weddings.

“I hope and pray fervently to God never to relinquish from me the passion and ardor that was bestowed upon me, so that I may for a long time rejoice and revel in the pleasure of my art with all my heart, body and soul and hopefully have others share as well in this joy.”

Annette Sabbah’s Jewish ritual garments for the body and soul, for the home, and the synagogue can be found at Jewish gift shops throughout America. They may also be ordered with unlimited individual specifications of size, color, texture, and ornamentation by contacting her at REINA KIPOT (818) 998-6938.
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