A job I didn't expect to get

 A few weeks ago I got an email from a friend of a friend. His tallit needed repairs. The ribbon used for the atara had gotten grotty. The pinot were in sad shape. Some of the edges of the tallit had frayed. Would I be able to repair the tallit?

Of course I would. But I also let the writer know that it might cost him less to just replace the tallit. He replied that that tallit was full of meaning to him and he would prefer to keep the tallit.

I suggested a low cost option of ordering the ribbon from a tallit supply house and just having the local dry cleaning establishment replace the ribbon both on the atara and the pinot. 

I also mentioned that I could design a new atara and pinot along with repairing the worn spots on the tallit. Charlie asked to see photos of my work.

Much to my surprise, Charlie decided to work with  me rather than just going with a simple repair.

As I suspected,the tallit was purchased for Charlie's wedding and he was committed to keeping his beloved tallit. I just love when men are so tied to the tallit they got married in. It says something really nice about their loyalty not just to a piece of fabric but to the woman they married and their fealty to their marriage.

The tallit arrived. It was yellowed from much wear. The frays looked easy to fix with a bit of serging and top stitching.

Figuring out the design of the atara and the pinot was a bit more complicated. Charlie and I had a meeting via Skype.it's important for me to get to know my clients so i can come up with a design that is not just OK but great.

During our conversation, Charlie spoke about how what he loves about wearing a tallit is how in makes him part of the community of Israel - similar to the way that an army uniform identifies you with a group.

Most of my clients look for a verse that evokes a more personal theology rather than one that helps  them connect to the larger people of Israel. One of my Chabad friend once talked about how her husband loves davening in a group where all of the men are dressed nearly identically. She said that it made her husband feel like he was part of one large praying being, rather than being an individual. He found that sense of being part of a larger whole deeply profound.

I told Charlie that I had to think a bit about the right verse for his tallit.

During service the next day the phrase אגודה אחת, one community kept flittering through my brain.  I couldn't remember the rest of the line. With the assistance of my  external brain, better known as Google, I found the complete line.

וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָם אֲגֻודָּה אֶחָת לעשות רצונך בלבב שלם

And they all became one community to do Your will with a full heart

Charlie was delighted with the choice. He asked for a sketch, and here it is in it's rough glory. I am using wheat as the decorative element because it also exists best not alone but in community.

Clearly there will be a whole lot of refinements before the tallit is complete. 

One of the things I am trying to figure out if the off white wool I have can work with the much darker tallit. Some borders may make the color difference look intentional.


  1. Sarah, I'm always moved by the care you take with your clients, to make their tallitot reflect their identity and spirituality, and how you seem always to arrive at an appropriate verse for the atara. I'm sure you will work out a wonderful solution to the color question.

    1. So sweet of you...but I always assume that since the ready to wear Judaica is so inexpensive, I need to provide a real reason to bother working with me.While making something beautiful matters, if you make something that is beautiful and meaningful on a variety of levels ( theological, personal to name two) you have really hit the jackpot.


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