The Mondrian mappah

As I explained in my last post, I’ve decided to make a mappah (a square cloth that covers the Torah between readings – I wish I knew a more descriptive word for this item!) for J to bring to a shulentragen, likely around his third birthday. I’d like to avoid staying up all night the Thursday before that day in April of 2016, so I’m getting started now.

I’m not really a fan of modern art, but apparently I love it for kids. Before J was born, I felt an overwhelming urge to make him a baby blanket in the style of a Rothko painting. Because I like to crochet in the round, I went with one of the Seagram Murals. The blanket is a bit small because I ran out of purple yarn, but you can compare it to the original.

Rothko baby blanket

As for the mappah, I felt the urge to go with a Piet Mondrian style. Bright primary colors and geometric shapes are very wimpel-friendly characteristics, youthful but not overly so.

traditional wimpel photo
Another photo of a wimpel from the Temple Tifereth-Israel collection. Note the fun colors, funky Hebrew letter shapes, and the fact that the lamed has sprouted antlers.

Because all recent attempts to get Hebrew on any of my home computing devices have been a disaster, I made my own font the old fashioned way – by creating stencils. That counts as charming, right?  Here is my first draft of the first few words.

mappah text mock-up: hakatan yochanan chamah

Traditionally, the wimpel text reads (remember my difficulty typing in Hebrew here),

HaKatan [name ben name] nolad b’mazel tov bayom [birthdate]. Hasheim yigdalhu l’Torah u’l’chuppah u’l’ma’asim tovim, selah amen.

Little so-and-so was born to good fortune on [date]. May he grow into Torah, the marriage canopy, and good deeds, selah amen.

Though I have the Hebrew figured out, I don’t know if I’ll add any English and if so, what. I’d kind of like to avoid making another font.

I also plan to design some Mondrian-style flourishes (can you call them flourishes if they only use 90 degree turns?) here and there, likely including a stylized Torah.

I’ll post any new developments, which will hopefully hopefully take place before April 2016!

Making a mappah

For various reasons, I’ve taken a hiatus from Tiny Judica. The company won’t be up and running before Hanukkah, so I’ve spent some time working on other projects.

One project that I put some attention to in these past weeks is designing a wimpel.

Traditionally in a German Jewish congregation, the mother of a newborn son would make a wimpel, a belt for the Torah, from the swaddling cloth that the baby boy wore at his brit milah. The wimpel, which generally measures about twelve feet by nine inches, is embroidered or painted with a message that includes the baby’s name, birthdate, and a nice message about his growing into Torah, chuppah and good deeds.

In old German synagogues (and perhaps in a few here and there today, possibly in Germany but more likely in Washington Heights NY or Israel), a toddler boy would bring his completed wimpel to shul with much fanfare. His father would help him to dress the Torah in the new wimpel, which involves wrapping the cloth around and around the scroll. (Wimpels follow the halacha that one shouldn’t make a permanent knot on Shabbat; they are basically wrapped many time and then tucked into themselves.)

wimpels in Cleveland
Two wimpels on display in the museum of Temple Tifereth-Israel of Beachwood, OH. I was there for a wedding this summer and took about a dozen shots of each of their wimpels.

A synagogue with a store of wimpels Continue reading Making a mappah

Bread on a fast day

Yesterday was the 17th of Tammuz, a minor fast day on the Jewish calendar. It might seem like a smart decision to avoid all thoughts of food on a day of abstention, but I went in a different direction and instead made fifteen loaves of challah.

It was clay challah, though. I didn’t have to worry about good smells from the oven or the temptation of little leftover lumps of dough.

15 unbaked challot

This was my first attempt to mass-produce. Of course, mass production is relative when you’re dealing with something like hand-braided miniature challah. Just blending the colors, prepping the dough and dividing the clay into twenty-ounce sections was fairly time-consuming.

And then of course, there was braiding, finishing and painting. Painting is important; who wants raw challah on their doll’s Shabbat table?

15 challot, baked

That’s better.

Now that I know how long it takes to make fifteen challot (answer: most of an afternoon), I can divide the time by fifteen and have a good idea of how long it takes to make a single challah. (Answer: about fifteen minutes. Not bad, I think?)

raw challah and exacto knife


An orange Friday

Bright orange can bring some good energy! Friday can be a busy, busy time, but I’ve gotten a little bit of a boost from some orange influences.

orange fruit jellies

Orange jellies to brighten your day! They’re the same size as the red ones from last week. I hope to have a nice variety of colors soon, so any hungry dolls can have a nice choice of candies.

But there’s more! Every year at Passover, you can expect someone to bring over a box of citrus-shaped jellies. You know, the kind with half-slices of orange, lemon, grapefruit and lime. I’ve only got one option so far, so I hope you like (you’ll never guess) orange!

orange citrus candies

This is how they looked before baking. Maybe a little too shimmery and white. Luckily, some glitter gets lost in the creation process.  Soon, I’ll have a colorful set for a happy 18-inch doll.

For now, have an orange day!

orange candies, two kinds

Miniature matzoh ball soup, good for what ails ya

I love soup. All the time. Summer, winter, no problem. I don’t make matzoh ball soup very often, but I do enjoy the stuff.

A lot of people like to make their matzoh ball soup with really gigantic matzoh balls. Me, too! Here are a couple that I made.

two miniature matzoh balls

Then of course, there’s the argument about hard vs. soft. When they’re made for eating, I like them soft. When they’re made for play, I prefer them hard as plasticized clay.

All the better to serve them up in a tiny bowl with carrot, celery and broth.

matzoh ball soup with penny

I told you the matzoh balls were gigantic!


Fruit jellies

Shabbat shalom! If you’re going to a bar mitzvah or an aufruf this weekend, then chances are that you will be celebrating by throwing candy.

tiny fruit jellies

The soft stuff, so you don’t hurt the folks up front, of course. and it should be tasty enough that you’d like to eat a piece or two yourself.

tiny fruit jellies, two wrapped and one unwrapped

Mmm, strawberry…. Or is it cherry? Let’s go with “red.”

Whatever flavor, here at Tiny Judaica I specialize in tiny simchas, which means that the throwing candy is small. How small?

fruit jellies and a penny

This small! Enjoy! Here’s one for big people, as well.

Tiny jellies and a real one

It’s a challah day

Here at Tiny Judaica, I’ve been cooking up a lot of holiday food lately. Of course, there are holidays, and then there are challah days.

Raw challah and a measuring tape

Today is a challah day.

It might seem too early in the week to bake challah. Normally, I’d worry that it would go stale before Shabbat. But when you make your challah out of clay, it stays good forever.

Challah loaf and roll on cutting board

Yep, these will keep for weeks and weeks (and years and years)!