The Kesher Israel Community Weaving Room

What I Make with My Hands, I Give with my Heart

At KI, you will now have the opportunity to weave your own tallit, atarah (crown or neck piece for your tallit), tallit bag, challah cover, matzah cover, or afikomen bag. The front lounge by the sanctuary entrance is now a Loom Room- come by and take a look! We would like to thank the Jewish Federation of greater Philadelphia and the Kehillah of Chester County  for supporting this program.

While you can certainly purchase a tallit or challah cover, designing and weaving your own is incredibly special, marries ritual and creativity, and adds a layer of personal meaning. There is no better gift for a loved one than a gift from the work of your own hands. What you make with your hands, you give with your heart.

        The most popular incentive to weave a tallit is for an upcoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah, but they also can be woven as a gift to yourself, for a wedding (think tallit for the bride or groom that could be used as a chuppah), anniversary, special birthday, or for someone who is converting. Maybe you just want one that expresses who you are as a person instead of a generic, purchased tallit. I was raised in a traditional Conservative community where women did not wear tallitot, and I didn’t truly feel comfortable wearing a tallit until I designed and wove my own.

 

Contact Ilene Lipow for more information and to schedule your weaving project. ilenecetlin@me.com

FAQs

I don’t know the first thing about weaving; will I be able to do this? Yes! You’ll be given complete instructions on how to use the loom, help with the design, and all others aspects of the project.

Who will help me? A seasoned weaver is the volunteer instructor for the program, and will be with you the entire time.

Are there any restrictions on who can do the weaving?  Physically, you need to be able to reach the treadles at the bottom of the loom and push them down with your feet, which isn’t arduous.  Anyone twelve and up should be able to handle this without a problem.  If you have some physical difficulties, we have a loom available with hand levers instead of treadles.  This type of weaving is not a project for young children, and in fact, anyone younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult to be in the loom room.

How much time will this take me?  The initial instruction and start-up session with the instructor  is approximately 3-4 hours.  Since each person weaves at a different pace, times will vary, but we estimate the following:

                Challah or Matzah Cover: 2-3 hours

                Tallit: 15-20  hours

                Atarah:  1 hour

                Tallit bag: 2-3 hours

                Tefillin Bag : 1-2 hours

When can I weave?  The Loom Room is available on weekdays, Monday-Thursday evenings until 9:00 p.m., and on Sundays.  The Loom Room is not available on Shabbat (Friday evenings and Saturdays) and Jewish holidays.

What happens if I make a mistake when I’m weaving?  First, you should know that everyone , even experienced weavers, makes mistakes.  You’ll be trained to check your work regularly to catch errors, and taught how to fix mistakes.  If one gets by you and you’ve woven several inches farther, you may just want to call it a design feature.  That’s part of the beauty of a handmade object and what makes it unique.  In some cultures, flaws are integral to artwork.

Are there any COVID-related restrictions?  Due to safety issues, only vaccinated individuals can use the Loom Room at this time.  Depending on the changing public health protocols, you may also be asked to mask as well, whether vaccinated or not.

I think I’m interested, so what do I do now? Send an e-mail to shalom@kesher-israel.org and indicate that you are interested in weaving. The weaving instructor will get back to you, and send you more detailed information.

How much will the materials cost? The fee includes all materials, (except special order colors, embroidery and finishing – see the fee sheet), instruction, and support though out the weaving process.