Natalee's tallit- tying the tzitzit

 I know that most adults act like twelve and thirteen year old kids ought to be locked up for a few years and let out once the hormones reach an even keel again. I love working with that age kid. That's probably a good thing, because most of my clients are exactly that age. I love how they, like cartoon characters, are in the process of walking off that cliff that is childhood, and into thin air.

I really love how when I get it right, with one of my bar- mitzvah kids, whatever their prickly relationship might be with their parents, they are so completely happy when they pick up their tallit and realize that they have actually been listened to.

All this by introduction to Natalee's  giant ear to ear grin when she picked up her tallit today. Natalee, her mom, and our mutual buddy Lorraine, who purchased the tallit as Natalee's bat- mitzvah gift came by to tie the tzitzit. Lorraine is an accomplished knitter. Natalee, like every kid who has gone to camp in the last twenty years has made dozens of friendship bracelets. Natalee's mom was a little nervous about her ability to do a good job tying the tzitzit.

A couple of years ago, I did a tallit making class for kids. There are two main ways to tie tzitzit, the regular wrap way, and the far lovlier way with a half hitch knot. All of the boys had spent some some working with an occupational therapist. All of the boys has small motor skills issues. Nevertheless, I got each of them to tie the tzitzit the extra lovely way. I figure that if I can get a class of eleven year old boys to do it, then a nervous adult can do it as well if you break down the task into easy to do segments.

So Natalee's mom did just fine, despite her worries,

I wanted the tallit to nod to Natalee's Chinese heritage. I didn't want the tallit to look like "Mulan's tallit". I think that I was sucessful in doing just that. Natalee is a pretty quiet kid. But she had a great big goofy grin on her face  the whole time she was here.


  1. Well no wonder she is grinning. It really looks like it makes her feel special.

    I love the photo showing how it looks on her. I was not sure how the red corners was going to work when I saw the separate photos before. But you have done very well. It is quite tasteful and pulled together with the red border around the atara? section.

    Well, done. And happy times for the next one, too!
    Sandy in the UK

  2. One of the things I love is how the relatively small corner pieces, generally about 2 inches ( 5cm) square can totally transform the nature of the piece. There is a tradition to make the corner piece white so the tallit and the tzitzit( ritual fringe) appear as one. I don't agree with that traditon.I feel that the corner piece is like a spiritual electrical is the spot that transforms the tallit from just being a hunk o cloth into being a religiously charged object. So i love to make thatr corner piece flashy...showing exacty where the holiest spots on the tallit are.

    Most people who wear a tallit end up playing with the tzitzit during services.Most little kids have spent hours playing with the corners ad the tzitzit of their parents' tallitot.having my clients tie their own tzitzit..making those corners delighful, i assume that they will think about the process of tying those tzitzit and all of the laws and lore and bits of torah they have learned while tying those tzitzit... I try to harness that bored energy from too many hours sitting at services and use it to get folks to wander back to the spiritual.

  3. What a beautiful tallit! A very lovely way to bring her heritage into the piece.


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