I love old fabrics and often incorporate old textiles into my work. Given that I make tallitot, lots of old tallitot pass through my hands. At some point, as you keep looking at the same category of objects, you begin to develop a bit of understanding, an ability to sort the objects by quality and into historical time periods.

Last night Sara and her mom Rebecca came by. They had an old family tallit that Sara would be wearing at her bat mitzvah. They assumed that they would need to add new tzitzit. Rebecca had already gotten new decorative fringe added to the tallit. I had expected to see a standard issue American tallit in silk or in rayon. instead, when I opened the tallit I was greeted with something I had never seen before.
The lettering on the atara/neckband was a wonderful Hebrew font that was in use from about the 1890's-the early 1920's. Then i saw that the text was not the usual text one finds on an atara. Often, the rayon ribbon used on a commercial atara is simply the blessing you say when donning the tallit. This atara had the text " May You bring us to Zion in joy". The text comes from the prayerbook.

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