Keeper of the textiles

This is the challah cover that my parents used for most of my time growing up.
I believe they purchased it in 1955 during their trip to Israel. The embroidery is done by hand by a skilled embroiderer.
The text in the center reads,  Shabbat Kodesh  /Holy Sabbath. This piece was probably not embroidered by the designer. This challah cover is like many of the challah covers produced at the time, produced by hand in some sort of a workshop setting.
I always loved how the wheat looked casually strewn around the text and yet formed itself into a satisfyingly formal  composition.  ( Clearly I didn’t have that sort of a vocabulary as a child, but I did have those thoughts.)
imma's challh cover (5)
Those sort of hand work- workshops don’t really exist anymore in Israel. During the time that this piece was produced, Israel was working it’s way from being a third world economy to being a second world economy. Today, the Israeli economy is simply too strong  for these sorts of workshops to make any sort of economic sense.
imma's challh cover (1)
Even the hems are hand done, and even the made in Israel is hand embroidered. If you were in Israel in the 1970’s or 80’s it was possible to purchase challah covers that looked similar.  The newer versions though were made on a polyester blend or even 100% polyester base. The embroidery was usually much cruder and done with far less care and skill.imma's challh cover (4)
This piece arrived in my house last Sunday along with boxes and boxes of STUFF from my mother’s apartment.
My parents put lots of time and effort into decorating their home and filling it with beautiful things. My husband and I have put much less conscious effort into interior design.

A friend once described her apartment as being decorated in “early dead relative”. Ours has been decorated less with conscious decisions about what to purchase but more about who has decided that their old furniture needs to live in our house. We have had something of a funky aesthetic  with junk and nice things pleasantly keeping one another company.
Suddenly my house has boxes filled with nice stuff that we are working on unpacking . We are working on integrating my parents things into our lives ( and cluttered apartment).

I have spent two days pulling photos out of rotting albums and putting them into  shoe boxes.  I have a box set up with the 1970’s and another of the 1980’s. it has been a powerful thing going through those decades in my life. Over the next while I will share some of those images, but not today.
While we were choosing what to take from my mother’s apartment I opened up the top right hand drawer in the dining room buffet. my father used to keep his kippot there. I opened the drawer and the smell of my father wafted out. His kippot were still there, along with the scent of my father.
Earlier this week I washed them.My father was a Brylcreem man. It took several changes of water to get the kippot clean.
They no longer smell like my father, but they are much brighter.

I also wanted to share a constant of my childhood.
mrs lustig
Mrs. Lustig, my grandmother’s friend and neighbor crochet  this doily along with many other for my grandmother. No object was ever placed directly on a wood surface. This particular Mrs. Lustig doily lived under the lamp on my bedside table.

I know nothing about Mrs. Lustig, not even her first name, aside from the fact that she made lots of doilies and table scarves. I have inherited finer crochet and knit doilies from various friends, but I am especially fond of Mrs. Lustig’s work. I judge all other work  based on Mrs. Lustig’s.
As I unpack the boxes, I will share more of their contents with you.

Shabbat Shalom!
You wanted to know what we are eating? Chicken cooked whole with a turmeric scented Middle Eastern cous-cous spice mix our friends sent us from France.
One of my sisters is a bit phobic about cooking chicken with bones. I think that bones give the chicken extra flavor.
A good knife and a cool chicken makes cutting the chicken along the joints easy work.   Watch Julia cooks chicken if you need advice about how to cut up a chicken. I always hear Julia's voice in my head as I  joint a chicken.


  1. I have the identical doily, and I have seen it elsewhere before. It must have been a popular pattern when it was published. And I recall a saying from my childhood, "the nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat," that I am sure is absolutely true.


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