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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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Caring for your Tallit

Jenna - Women's Handmade Silk Tallit-94

Worn during morning prayers and on occasions like the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the tallit is a beautiful and important garment that should be cared for as such. Made from materials like cotton, silk and wool, many individuals worry about damaging their tallit and avoid washing it to keep it looking like new. Since this holy garment must be kept clean and in good repair at all times, follow advice from The Tallis Lady while cleaning:

Dry Cleaning

Whether you are nervous about cleaning your tallit on your own, are unsure of what type of detergent to use or just don’t have time to get this done on your own, having it dry cleaned is a great idea. Find a dry cleaner in your area that has experience cleaning prayer shawls to ensure that they will be able to properly care for yours. A good cleaner will provide your piece with the attention and care it deserves, providing you with a fresh garment and none of the worries that may accompany at-home cleaning.

Frequency

Unless something is spilled on your tallit or it gets dirty at the neck, you do not need to wash it. Look over your prayer shawl regularly, paying close attention to the tzitzit. If your shawl is looking worn or knots are unraveling, be sure to have it repaired or consider purchasing a new version. Always keep your tallit folded neatly in the bag it comes in or hang it in a suit bag to keep it from wrinkling.

The Tallis Lady offers men and women’s tallitots in a variety of fabrics and styles. Contact us online or call 201-321-4995 to find the right prayer shawl for you.

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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.

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Women and the Tallit

Wool

Why do women wear tallitot, and should they? These Jewish prayer shawls are ceremonial and symbolic, and provide an important connection to a woman’s heritage. It also lends itself as a focal point of concentration. Usually made of wool, they are often first worn by children on their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. Traditionally, however, they are only worn by men.

According to Halachic works, both women and men are forbidden to wear clothing of the opposite gender. As the tallit is most commonly associated with and worn by men, this explains the taboo of a woman wearing one.

So, what should a woman do if she wants to wear a tallit? According to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a woman who wishes to wear a tallit must wear a distinctly feminine one [Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim V, section 49]. This should not be done as a protest of the tradition, but as a way for a woman to fulfill this mitzvah and recognizing that they are not required to do so.

This issue directly relates woman’s equality and rights, both within the religion and socially. While the Torah does not outright forbid a woman to wear a tallit, it certainly does not encourage it. That does not mean that change isn’t underway, and while Rabbi Feinstein warns a woman not to wear a tallit as a sign of protest, it still nonetheless is an indication that these changes are underway.

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