Tuesday, December 8, 2009


It's about time I documented the embroidery I did for my synagogue, Congregation Kerem Shalom.


Years ago, our synagogue got a new Torah....an old new Torah. It was originally in a synagogue in Czechoslovakia. The Nazis murdered all the Jews in that town, and stole the valuables. The Torah was tattooed, cataloged, and placed in storage, to be part of a display in a museum of an extinct race. Ugh.
Here are the red letters the Nazis painted on the rollers. They used to be brighter, but handling has rubbed much of it off. The Torah wasn't well cared for under the Nazis, but it has had some conservation, although I wish it could have some more.

There are many Torahs like this, that were rescued and placed in synagogues for safe keeping. Here is more information.

Sixteen years ago, I was asked to make a cover for this Torah. I drew a tree of life, and embroidered it in wool on wool fabric and lined it in cotton. I kept the stitches simple, it's mostly outline stitch, with long and short stitch, satin stitch, couching, and some simple fillers.

I loved the camel, he was fun!

I really enjoyed the colors, and who could resist adding a lion and lamb to a Tree of Life? As is obvious, I had fun with the animals...when you aren't restricted by reality, you can put a goose into the tree with the seal!

The metal pointer is a yod, used to keep your place when chanting Torah, so that your finger oils don't damage the ink. They are usually decorative, as well as functional, and hang from the rollers, looking pretty, until the scroll is undressed, opened up and read.


Here is a page of the Torah

And here you can see it rolled up, ready to be dressed.

I did much of the embroidery with my then 1 yr old daughter strapped to my back! At her Bat Mitzvah, she carried this Torah around the sanctuary in the traditional processional, and then chanted from it. It's still part of Jewish life cycles, despite its history!


Mildawg said...

That is so amazing and intricate! I'm blown away! Wow!

Rainy Daisy said...

Oh my goodness. ....Honestly, I'm not sure what to say about this, except that I adore these bits of history, that those numbers are fairly terrifying, and I am pleased that your community has adopted this torah. I have read about Hitler planning for museums of "past" races. Really, really twisted.

Your embroidery is just stunning.