A torah mantle
My father died this past September 4, the 4th of Elul on the Jewish calendar. My father, having been a rabbi for 55 years, and having spent so much time sitting with his congregants as they were dying, was very aware of his decline and his approaching death.
Our youngest is having his bar mitzvah this March. All last winter, my father knew he wasn't feeling right. He kept telling me , "I will never make it to that bar mitzvah." I thought that he as talking about the difficulty of traveling to New York or his problems with walking. In retrospect, I realize that he knew that he would not be alive .
During the summer while my father was hospitalized when my youngest would visit my father he would chant as much of his haftatra as he knew. As he chanted the rest of us would weep knowing that by the time of the bar mitzvah, my father would no longer be alive.
After my father died, I decided to make a Torah mantle in my father's memory so that my father's presence would be noted during the bar mitzvah. I went through a variety of texts trying to find something appropriate. Some I rejected for simply being too sad.
Going through my son's haftara, from the book of Isiah, I found Ezok ruhi al zaracha, u'vircati al tze'eh tza'ehcka " I will pour my my spirit on your descendants and my blessing on your offspring", the verse seemed just right for both marking the loss of my father from our family and also noting the importance of our little guy taking his place at his bar mitzvah.
After some back and forth with my rabbi who preferred a different verse I came up with the
I thought that the mantle needed to be made out of dark blue cotton velveteen. ( Cotton for durability) All of the sketched lines beaded to look like flowing water. After searching the garment district I found exactly the right velvet, a deep blue with none of that dusty sheen that so many velveteens have, at Rosen & Chadick.
I found the beads at one of the Korean owned bead stored on 38th street. I cut a stencil for the letters out of heavy art paper and filled the lettering in by loading a paint brush with pigment from a Shiva paint stick and painting through the stencil.I'm embroidering an outline stich in silver metallic thread by hand around all of the letters.
Because it can be hard to maintain concentration on hand work, I'm alternating between doing the letters and the beads. The beading is less time consuming than I had anticipated. I still need to add the letters for the last part of the verse.