A T’fillin bag for Zachary

Zachary is my neighbor. He’s a really delightful kid.  We met before his bar mitzvah to learn a bit about tallit. Zachary wore his deceased grandfather’s tallit at his bar mitzvah.

Zachary and I discussed what I could make for him as a gift. He needed a bag for his t’fillin.  I suggested a text,that is recited while wrapping the straps of the t’fillin. 

I will betroth you to me forever

I will betroth you to me with righteousness and justice and with mercy.

I will betroth you to me with faithfulness

Hosea 2-21-22



I painted the text onto heavy weight black satin in gold paint. I just used the words “ I will betroth” once.

I shadow quilted the borders. For you non schmatta geeks, that means decorative stitching in the same color as the face fabric with a heavy filling beneath the face fabric. the heavy filer in this case was an old heavy weight wool skirt.


This is the back of the bag.


I painted the gold vines and then did diamond quilting with gold metallic thread. I didn’t measure the lines but simply eyeballed the placement of the stitches.  I would not suggest that you measure the spacing with a ruler, but visually it reads as regular  and that’s good enough for me.


Doing that sort of decorative stitching always seems like a great idea before I begin. Usually about half way through I realize that I must have been crazy to come up with an idea that is both time consuming and incredibly boring. This time I didn’t get cranky. I think allowing myself the freedom to eyeball the stitches meant that more of my brain was engaged in the process.  I’m happy to report that I wasn’t ready to commit murder by the time I was done. Instead I had entered a happy little Zen zone.

Zachary had requested that his t’fillin bag be yellow and black.  I couldn’t quite figure out how to do that and have the bag stay on this side of tasteful. I did the lettering and all of the other decorations in a yellow gold, but I knew I had to include some actual yellow in the bag.


I lined the bag in this wonderful yellow striped tie silk. The sharp eyed among you can see the teeny dots of hand stitching near the zipper.


I gave Zachary his t’fillin bag last night. He was genuinely pleased.  I love how enthusiastic he was about the verse. His mother loved the obsessive stitching.  The yellow silk lining was the icing on the cake.


I have the feeling that most kids don’t expect to see their desires listened to and made  into an actual object.


  1. I love how much I learn about your faith from your postings. Had never heard the word t'fillin before so did go to the wiki link site. Thanks for all the info and insight. Love the way you work with the kids and I'm certain they love it also. You are likely the first adult who has listened - really listened - to them ever. Thanks for sharing as you do. Liz in Tucson

  2. Thanks Liz-

    For me the challenge is to explain Jewish ritual and objects in a way that is authentic but doesn't condescend. Working with kids is a great pleasure. I love pushing them to think beyond their normal boundaries and to help them to realize that Judaism will have something to offer them when they are adults as well. I don't think that I am the first adult to listen to these kids, many of them come from really good families.But most of them come from a world where the making of something is something that is done far away in a factory in China so there is something wonderful for them to see some of the process so close at hand where the decisions can be made by them.


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