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

following sketch.

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.


  1. Ezok ruhi al zaracha, u'vircati al tze'eh tza'ehcka " I will pour my spirit on your descendants and my blessing on your offspring",

    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Found this post through PatternReview. I'm not a Jew but with many Jewish friends and very interested in Hebrew scholarship.

    Your mantle is extremely moving on several levels - as a tribute to your father and son - as a connection to the community - as a representation of the continuity of family and tradition, very important - as a personal statement of your faith - and as an uplifting quote in and of itself. I too turn to Isaiah in times of stress, his words of wisdom echo through the millenia.

    It's beautifully executed. The blue velvet is just perfect, and the beads and embroidery make it truly unique. A wonderfully moving work of art, and thank you very much for sharing your vision and experience.

    Condolences on the loss of your father - he sounds like he was truly loved by his family and congregation, and will be sorely missed.

  3. Dear Lillibet-
    Thank you. This line of text was so deeply part of my father's theology. It was so important to my father that my sisters and I and our children have a strong connection to the Jewish stuff.

    It also seems so fitting that my youngest, "The Little Atheist", as my father called him is reading this line and taking it seriously.

    Yesterday, I finished embroidering the letters and also added the rest of the verse.


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