Keeper of the Textiles part 4

When I was little my mother used to wear these scarves if she were really dressing up. They were made in Israel in the workshop of Esther Zeitz. When I was a kid many of us wore embroidered blouses or dresses made in Israel. We certainly wore them on Israel Independence Day. Most were made of cotton embroidered in cotton embroidery floss, by hand.

There was a more elegant class of these dresses made by Esther Zeitz. They were made of wool or of rayon crepe and featured lots of couched metallic threads. A woman who wore such a dress announced herself to the world as a Zionist woman of good taste. If you attended a black tie synagogue function any time from the 1950's through the 1980's you were sure to see at least one long black Esther Zeitz dress resplendent with lots of couched embroidery. The Zeitz workshop also sold scarves in various sizes.

When my parents went to Israel in 1955, my mother bought her mother the white wool scarf with red embroidery. My mother envisioned her mother covering her head with the scarf when she lit Shabbat candles. Mama, my grandmother , didn't much like using new things. So when Mama moved in with us after my grandfather's shiva, the scarf came with Mama, still pristine.

The Chanukah I was four, the local paper did a Chanukah story. The photo illustrating the article was of my sisters and me lighting candles. My mother, ever the stylist, set up several menorahs in the dining room on top of the Esther Zeitz scarves. I was set up on a stool next to my, then, much taller sisters and that moment was recorded for posterity.

My main memory of the event was getting dressed for the photograph. My sisters wore their matching black velveteen jumpers with the two pearl buttons and the elbow length white blouses underneath. I was dressed in an insanely itchy wool polo sweater with a plaid collar and cuffs and matching even more itchy pleated skirt. I remember the photographer asking me to stop scratching myself.

I don't know how the blue or the black scarves came into my mother's life. Perhaps she purchased them, or perhaps they were gifts. My mother never owned an Esther Zeitz dress, but the scarves were worn when my mother would go to the symphony or to the opera.

So now, the scarves are mine. What am I going to do with them? I don't know, but I love owning them.


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