Department of Shameless promostion
This afternoon I'm teaching a tallit making workshop for 11 year old kids and their parents. This is familiar territory for me. The hardest part of such a workshop for me is not teaching the text or keeping a group of both adults and kids engaged, but rather, trying to guess how big a tallit to make for the participants.
Some kids at age 11 are at about their full height. Other kids spend their grade school years as peanuts and then sprout up like crazy either around the time of their bar-mitzvah or in the years following the bar-mitzvah. ( My youngest grew 18 inches the year after his bar-mitzvah and another foot the following year) I don't want kids to put in a whole lot of effort into a tallit what will look like a toy tallit by the time they have their bar- mitzvah. On the other hand, you don't want them to look like they are drowning in tallit at their bar-mitzvah.
My solution is to more or less guesstimate a size based on the the current size of the kid and the size of the parents. Clearly if the child is adopted i guess entirely blindly.
And while we are on the topic of working with more or less the general public,next Sunday my synagogue is doing an artists' fair. If you are in the neighborhood you are welcome to come. If you only know me virtually, please be sure to say hello.