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The Missing Tallit

I recently heard a story from a friend about her husband who lost his very cherished tallit in synagogue one Shabbat. He tried every way possible to find it. He was up on a Bima a few times making announcements to temple congregants about the missing tallit. He put a notice in the temple newsletter and even service programs asking if anyone had seen it. Very distraught about not having it and getting no results from his efforts to find it, he just gave up.

Apparently, the tallit  was not that dissimilar looking from the tallitot you often find in the temple closet for Shabbat and other services.

One day his daughter (in her 20’s) came to services with her parents. There was a basket of tallitot and she decided to go through it. You see, when she was a child she would sit next to her dad in the sanctuary and touch his tallit all the time. Remembering how it felt, she reached in the basket and after touching several tallitot she retrieved her dad’s. After a year of looking, everyone was astonished, and her dad so relieved to finally have the tallit back in his possession.

But the mystery of how it went missing for so long was also revealed.  Apparently a congregant who lives in Florida most of the year attended services.  He was visiting the NY area and by accident took the tallit home with him back to Florida….thinking it was his.

When he returned the following year he returned it to the temple’s tallitot population.

I don’t know about you, but I was so moved by this story….that the tactile experience of young girl in temple could be so meaningful that it stayed with her into adulthood.

 

 

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Get Me to The Synagogue on Time

Whenever I go to a Synagogue service I insist on getting there before the service begins. Not sure why – maybe it’s a respect thing or maybe it makes the entire experience complete for me when I’m there at the start.
I also dislike people in the congregation looking at me when I arrive late.
Anyway, this was not a priority for my husband. He would take his time getting dressed and it almost seemed like he was doing it on purpose to aggravate me. And having only one car at the time, we needed to go together since it was about a 10 minute highway drive.
One Saturday morning I was biting my fingernails waiting for him and finally he said, “just go ahead, I will find a way to get there and meet you at the Synagogue.” So I left and arrived on time for the service.
About 45 minutes later I see him walk in and sit 2 rows behind me because there wasn’t a seat next to me.
I mouthed the words to him, “how did you get here?” He showed me a hitchhiker thumb.
Then I said, “How are you getting home?”

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Make Them Stay For Shabbat

When my family comes home on a Friday night, they know they can look forward to the enticing and familiar aromas coming from the kitchen. Most likely, it’s my chicken soup. Not that I want to brag,…. but I have been told that my chicken soup is outstanding.

Here is my secret recipe.

Use the biggest soup pot you have….or size down the recipe.

You will need:

2 chickens worth of any chicken parts. Sometimes I use several turkey wings which I guess will make it turkey soup but you won’t know the difference and they are very flavorful. I always use kosher poultry. It makes all the difference when it comes to flavor. The more poultry you use, the better the soup will taste.

Meat bones – like knee bones.

1 bunch of dill, some parsley, 1 very large or 2 medium onions, 2 large parsnips, 5 carrots, 4 celery stalks, 1 celery root (cleaned) and cut in half.

Knorr Chicken Bullion cubes (kosher varieties available)

Salt and Pepper to taste.

 

Directions:

Cut all the veggies into a little larger than bite size pieces. Cut the celery root in half.

Wrap the parsley and dill in a cheesecloth sack or clean rubber band. Set aside.

 

Put the chicken/turkey and meat bones in the pot and fill it with water.

Wait until it comes to a boil and take off all the stuff that comes to the top of the pot. You will need to take the stuff off several times until the water is clear.

 

Add remaining ingredients except bullion cubes.

 

Cover the pot but leave a little space open and simmer the soup for about 2 hours or so.

Add 1 bullion cube about ½ way through and taste broth to see if you need to add another 1 or 2 cubes.

 

Remove the bones, dill and parsley and enjoy with your favorite matzo balls or noodles.

 

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Is There a Difference Between a Men’s/Women’s Tallit and a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Tallit?

This is an interesting question I get asked all the time.

For the most part, there is no difference. That being said, style and sometimes size will determine the difference, especially for adults.

In my experience, most Bat Mitavah girls like pastel colors, sheer fabrics and more contemporary styles. I often have adult Bat Mitzvah women who want something a little more mature in color or more neutral colors like gold and white or silver and white so they are versatile with what they wear. The size for women and girls are virtually the same….18”x72” or 20”x80” which are standard sizes. Both girls and women will occasionally overlap wanting similar styles. There are some tallitot made for more petite girls when a 72” length is too long. I do suggest getting a Tallit for “life” not just for the Bat Mitzvah or matching a dress they will wear that day.

 

As for choosing a tallit for both men and Bar Mitzvah boys there is almost no difference in style but very often a man (because he is taller and broader most of the time) will buy a tallit that is 80” long. A taller Bar Mitzvah boy can also wear an 80” Tallit, but I find that I sell more 72” long for them.

 

Whatever your style or body type is, it all comes down to an individuals taste and how the Tallit looks on. It is important to buy from a vendor where you can either try it on before purchasing or be able to return it for a refund if it isn’t the right one for you.

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Wearing a Kippah

Traditionally only worn by men, many modern-day women wear the kippah as well. While some individuals only wear this cap while praying, others wear it at all times. Putting on this head covering is a sign of respect; the reason behind this comes from a story in the Talmud. The wearing of a kippah reminds us of our religious beliefs and that we are being watched over by God in all aspects of our lives.

When you wear a kippah, you are sharing your faith with those around you, displaying a commitment to your beliefs. Worn only by those of great stature during the Talmudic times, the wearing of the kippah by all Jewish men became a tradition over the course of many years. Although not a written law, the wearing of this cap has become a universally accepted practice.

The style of the kippah has changed a lot throughout history and different styles and colors can be worn to denote group affiliations. While men almost always wear a cloth or crocheted cap, women wear a variety of styles, including beaded wire options and scarves.

Here at The Tallis Lady, you can create a custom designed wire and beaded kippah, perfect for daily wear or for special events and celebrations. To get started, choose a design here or call us at 201-321-4995.

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The Best Challah Recipe


Challah has been a staple at our tables since the creation of Judaism. The symbolism of Challah goes deeply into religion and spiritualism, and has evolved to encompass different meanings over time. Tradition states that the each Sabbath meal (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), as well as two holiday meals begin with two loaves of Challot each. The manna is symbolic of the bread that was supplied by G-d after our Jewish ancestors wandered the desert for 40 years after the Exodus of Egypt.

Usually you will see Challah bread woven and braided into round loaves. Traditional Challah will have what adds up to 12 strands, representing the twelve tribes. The loaves represent the promise that G-d will provide for his people. Many times, bakers will choose to sprinkle their Challah bread with seeds. Poppy, Sesame, or coriander all represent the bread falling from heaven.

The Shapes of Challah

In addition to the traditional woven loaves that you see, there are a variety of shapes and designs that Challah bread has embraced for special occasions. You’ll see spiral rounds, which represent the continuity of creation. Braided circles represent the journey to heaven. Crowns represent G-d’s rule over his people. Challah can also be in the shape of a bird, which when eaten on Yom Kippur is tied to a passage from Isaiah 31:5, “As hovering birds, so will the Lord of hosts shield Jerusalem”. It is symbolic of prayers reaching the heavens.

The Best Challah Bread Recipe

The best challah breads are homemade from scratch. Here is a tried and true recipe that perfectly makes two loaves.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1 ¼ cups warm water
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups of unbleached flour, plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar

Directions

First, dissolve honey, yeast, and water into a large mixing bowl. Set aside this mixture for about 15 minutes, until the yeast forms a creamy layer.

Then, mix in the salt, olive oil, and beaten eggs.

Gently add 1 cup of flour at a time until the dough is tacky. It shouldn’t be sticky-wet. If you still have stickiness, add a bit more flour.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it until you have a smooth, elastic loaf. This will take about 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a bowl and insert the ball of kneaded dough. Make sure the surface of the dough is covered in oil before you allow it to rise.

Leave the dough in the bowl, covered in a warm place for about an hour and half.

Once the dough has fully risen, take it out of the bowl and divide it into two separate loaves.

For directions on braiding your Challot bread, watch the video below. You’ll find directions on how to do a simple braid, all the way up to 9 strands.

Once your Challah is braided as you please, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Place your braided Challah onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Create a glaze by whisking together the egg whites, milk, 2 table spoons of olive oil, and the sugar. Brush the glaze over top of the Challah. This will give it a beautiful shiny finish once it’s done baking.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until it has reached a nice, golden brown color.

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What Does a Tallit Cost?

What Does a Tallit Cost?

I mentioned in previous blogs that tallitot come in all shapes and sizes. Well, that goes for prices as well. I have seen tallitot as low as $30 – $40 and as high as $1,200.

What makes them so expensive or inexpensive? There are several answers. Inexpensive tallitot are generally machine made and a less costly fabric is used…..the same as with any garment you may buy.

As the fabrics become more expensive and more people are involved in creating the tallit, the price will go up. Prices often depend on embroidery, fabric, piecing the tallit designs together, and where it is made. I have found that many artisan designers here in the United States sell tallitot that are much more expensive than let’s say Israel. However, there are several artists in Israel that use high quality fabrics and create gorgeous designs which is reflected in a higher price.

So it is up to you as to how much you want to spend. As long as it’s Kosher, a tallit is a tallit and serves the same purpose no matter what you spend. What I do recommend is to buy a tallit for life and that it feels comfortable on you.

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What Size Tallit Should I Buy?

I get this question all the time. And because tallitot come in all shapes and sizes, it’s a very valid question.

There are a range of standard sizes. They are 72” – 80” in length and 18” to 24” in width.  Non standard sizes increase in width because the tallit worn in a special way where the tsitsis and corners in the front are thrown over the shoulders and sometimes over the head.  These can go up to 60” in width and are usually preferred by some conservative and orthodox worshipers.

I personally do not carry short sizes (except for a few for very petite girls).

In my opinion, every Bar/Bat Mitzvah child should have a tallit at least 70” in length  (a size they can wear for life) or in a few years they will be back for another one because their shorter one will be way to short for them to use as an adult. It’s amazing how kids shoot up like corn stalks right after they become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  Years ago, there was such a thing as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah tallit which was 64” in length.  Men come to me all the time because that tallit now looks like a shrug on them.

So here are my guidelines:

If you are 4’8” to 5’10” a 72” tallit will work for you. A broader man can wear a tallit with an  80” length because the tallit is hiked up by the shoulders.

If you are over 5’10” go for an 80” tallit which will be perfect and not look too short.

As far as the width is concerned, it’s a personal choice. Most men like them wider (22-24”) and girls or women like them more narrow. Both men and women often fold the width of the tallit in half or scrunch the tallit at the neck.

The most important thing is that you are comfortable in the choice you make.

 

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Oh! The Joy of Buying a Tallit with Family and Grandparents

I love my job. Watching the tears of joy on a family members’ face as they see their child or grandchild in a tallit for the first time is the most gratifying experience.

In the past eight years when I have been selling tallitot to my customers, whether it be online or in my studio, I see the family experience as a most valuable one.
Buying a tallit for a child to wear at his Bar or Bat Mitzvah symbolizes not only that they will read from the Torah for the first time, but much more. To most families, it means the passage into adulthood when a life cycle changes and their child is growing up. In the Jewish religion, wearing a tallit for the first time seems to symbolize the beginning of a new journey – one filled with responsibility and the obligation to do mitzvot according to Jewish law.

When the entire family participates in the choosing of a tallit, grandparents can witness for a second time a new generation continuing to practice the Jewish faith. La Dor Vador – from generation to generation. The gratitude on a grandparent’s face to be alive to see this mitzvah is beyond words. We say “shep nachis,” …well this is what it is all about.

It is different than picking out a dress or suit for the occasion. It is about buying a religious garment for life and remembering when it was purchased and by whom. Many times an adult male will come to me with a tallit that was given to him at his Bar Mitzvah by his grandparents. He asks me to restore it or to somehow incorporate it in a new one because it has such sentimental value.That is why it is so important to make it a personal experience. We hope that every time the recipient wears his or her tallit, they will remember grandma and grandpa or the family member who blessed them with this wonderful and holy gift.

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What is the meaning of “Tallit”

At a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or Wedding, a tallit is often purchased for the groom or child coming of age as a religious ritual. For the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child the tallit is worn for the very first time when they read from the Torah. For the groom it is worn not at the wedding, but the next time he prays in the Synagogue.  Very few people actually ask me what the word “tallit” or “tallis” actually means. I usually put a description in with their bag which I hope is read at some point.

Very simply, “tallit” means “little tent.” Designed to create your own private sanctuary when praying. One wraps the tallit around them and sometimes puts it on their head to have even a more personal prayer experience.  It is the four fringes on each corner, “tzitsis” which have the most significant meaning on the garment. The tzitsis are to remind us during prayer of God’s laws. Without these fringes, the tallis has no religious significance.

As stated in the book of Deuteronomy (22:12), the tzitzit (fringes) are to be placed on a four cornered garment. The Rabbi’s concluded that only a four cornered garment can have tzitzit. Thus, the origin of the prayershawl (tallit) .

Another version of the tallit called a “tallit katan” or “small tallit” is an undergarment worn by many pious Jews all day – a kind of vest worn under clothing.

Tallitot come in all shapes and sizes (another blog topic). However, they all must have four corners and tzitsis tied in the traditional manor to be kosher.  All other parts of the tallit are decorative.

Remember, the decorative part of the tallit has importance too. Although the above is the religious and historical meaning of a tallit, I have experienced over the past several years people who attach their own personal significance to their tallit…..and why not?  It has a different meaning for all of us and we all experience the wearing of a tallit differently.