a thank you gift for my son's Bar- Mitzvah teacher

When it was time for my daughter to study for her Bat Mitzvah we hired a teacher to work with her. Either my husband or I could have taught her, but given where she was emotionally at the time, it seemed better to have her learn with someone else.

When it was time for my older son to begin to study, I started to work with him with the assurance that if he wanted to work with someone who was not his mother, we would find him a teacher. We worked in little snippets of time early in the mornings. I don't think we could have found a teacher to show up for ten minutes at a time, at 7:00am. We worked well together. We have a fairly easy relationship.r

When our youngest was 10 or so, my husband went to a charity auction. One of the items in the silent auction was Bar Mitzvah lessons with Jerry. Jerry runs an alternative Hebrew School and has prepared hundreds and hundreds of kids for their B'nai Mitzvah. my husband bid on the lessons and won.

Jerry was one of the people that helped hold our synagogue together during it's pre-Rabbi days. Each Yom Kippur afternoon Jerry , a trained actor does a fabulous rendition of the Jonah story for kids.

I knew that I needed to give Jerry a gift to let him know how much we appreciate the work he put in to working with our son. I had noticed a few months ago that his t'fillin bag had seen better days. The velvet was beginning to bald. I decided to make his a t'fillin bag with Jonah's prayer from inside the whale with the prayer in the shape of the whale.

Yesterday I got the front of the bag completed. I sketched out the whale onto upholstery weight ultrasuede with a pencil. I calligraphed the text using a mixture of fabric dye and acrylic paint. The waves are added by way of oil paint stick and stencil. As i was setting the color of the paint-sticks I noticed that the letters were more blobby than I liked. So then I carefully outlined each and every letter either in black or in gold with a very fine tipped brush.

I love the results. In memory of those Carvel ice cream ads, we are all calling this "Fudgy the Whale". We keep turning the bag upside down to see if it looks like "Witchy Witch" or like that Mother's day basket of flowers. What can I tell you, we are very easily amused.

The "Fudgy the Whale" t'fillin bag needs a red gusset, a back and a zipper.Posted by PicasaLet's see if I can get it done today.


  1. Beautiful work, Sarah. I'm sure your son's teacher will love it.


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