Berit Engen WEFT and D'RASH – A Thousand Jewish Tapestries

– The Ritual Glad and Sad Days and  What They Look Like
The holy days sound, smell, and taste different from one another, and each is also visually distinct. I enjoy connecting a special day with specific ritual objects, colors, and shapes. 

(17/-- tapestries)

– The Yontifs and How to Live Them
This series is inspired by and structured after the table of contents in the book The Jewish Way - Living the Holidays by Rabbi Irving Greenberg.
As I read this book, it seemed like all I had learned about Judaism fell into place, and the sacred days offered a more profound perspective.
In the conflict between my Jewish aspirations and reality, I struggle as I wander the Way to the goal offered by the Torah, the universal redemption.
The titles are based on YIVO’s list of Yiddish names for the holy days, (with the exceptions of Yom haShoah and Yom ha’Atzmaut.) Given that all the names are originally Hebrew, the difference is mostly a matter of emphasizing different syllables. I miss hearing these disappearing sounds at the times of the various yontifs and observances.

(15/15 tapestries)

 – The Holiest of Days and How It Feels
Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. White is the color in the synagogue of this day of vulnerability, judgment, and God’s grace. It shows best in contrast to black. Although there is no black in the synagogue, I imagine the Book of Life, the scale, and the gates in this dark color. I feel slightly uncomfortable with the contrast between the two as they transform perceived shapes and real emotion into sharp silhouettes.

(5/5 tapestries)

 – Keeping Track of Time and Harvest
After the fall of the Second Temple, the custom of having a decorative calendar for counting the Omer emerged. Then the tradition faded, and nowadays, with all sorts of intrusive pinging and blinking devices to remind us of time, we obviously don’t need it. But we are reviving this tradition with its potential for artistic fun and beauty as a spiritual preparation for Shavuot.

(3/4 tapestries)

In Yellow, Rose, and Subtle Greys: Days Set Aside

The minimalism of spots of one color on a simple background has a child-like feel to it but lacking here is the naivete of children. I marvel in the beauty of these holy days and contemplate their serious characteristics.

(6/-- tapestries)

 – Yom-Tovs in Their Times and Seasons
Spring, summer, fall, and winter. Day, twilight, night, and dawn. Trees, flowers, fruits, and branches. Sun, snow, rain, and wind. The Creation is our companion as we observe, celebrate, dance, mourn, and remember personal and tribal pasts while eating and drinking of its abundance.

(6/-- tapestries)

– Apples and Honey and Life Begins in Fall

I wanted to weave these two symbols of Rosh Hashanah and the autumn light as it is here in Oak Park, Illinois. But as we delight in a cyclical new beginning and the natural wonders, we keep in mind that Rosh Hashanah is about making moral and ethical choices and staking out history. Sometimes an apple is not just an apple.

(4/4 tapestries)
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