על מקומו יבא שלום



I can't say that I know a whole lot of stars in Hollywood, although Claire Danes was one of my kids when I ran an afterschool program in the West Village in the early 1980's. I can say with confidence that lots of the stars of the much smaller Jewish intellectual world are people that are part of my circle. If your synagogue invited someone to be a scholar in residence in the past few years, there is a better than even chance that it is someone I know.

One of those stars, Rabbi Neil Gillman died this Friday. Rabbi Gillman taught one of my sisters and many of my friends. At his funeral yesterday, so many of his eulogists spoke about Rabbi Gillman's genius at asking the right question.

I was the beneficiary of one of those Rabbi Gillman questions.

Many years ago at one of the first couple of craft shows when  I showed my work Rabbi Gillman began looking carefully at my challah covers and matza covers. After several minutes he asked me if I made tallitot for women.  I answered that I didn't. He mentioned how he was looking to purchase a tallit for his daughter and was unsatisfied with what the market had to offer. I agreed with him that the tallitot that were then available didn't really work for women.

I thought about Rabbi Gillman's question for a long time. Eventually, I began to come up with answers to his question about tallitot for women. It is a question that I am still answering twenty-five years later.


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