Monthly Archives: November 2014

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? ┬áHere 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