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Threading Stones: An Elul Tradition

July 9 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EDT

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, repeating until August 6, 2024

Three women stand at the gate of a cemetery
Tuesdays, July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and August 6, 2024
2-3:30 p.m. EDT

Prepare yourself for Elul and the High Holy Days by learning an ancient tradition, rarely taught by those who have practice in this tradition.

For generations, Jewish women in Eastern Europe utilized threads to measure cemeteries and graves. These threads were used to create special soul candles known as neshome likht, or sometimes as protective bands worn on wrists, ankles, or necks. Typically overseen by skilled women called feldmesterins, activities such as feldmestn (cemetery measuring) and kneytlekh leygn (laying wicks) were most prevalent during Elul to prepare soul candles for Yom Kippur.

In this Ritualwell Immersion program, you will be guided on how to carry out these rituals based on translated Yiddish ethnographic studies and memoirs. The session will include teaching Yiddish songs, reciting tkhines (Yiddish prayers), and reading poems, some of which are focused on this ritual. Delving into the history of this tradition will shed light on how cemeteries were perceived in shtetl society, serving as a means to communicate with the deceased and seek their assistance. At the end of this Immersion, you will be able to host a cemetery measuring event in Elul or any other time of the year.

This Immersion is open for all! If you are intrigued by Yiddish, Jewish, or local history; eager to explore overlooked folklore and protective practices; or seeking new avenues to connect with your ancestors; if you are a Jewish educator, spiritual leader, or community members interested in leading this program during the month of Elul at their local cemeteries: You are welcome to join us!

Want to learn more? Watch this short video!

All sessions will be recorded and sent to participants. We encourage live attendance for you to get the most out of the experience.
Annie is a white skinned woman with shoulder length light brown hair.Annabel Cohen is a PhD Student in Modern Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, focusing on the interwar Jewish anti-fascist left. She has a Masters with distinction in History from the University of London. Alongside her PhD research, Annabel researches and translates materials relating to Jewish women’s religiosity in Eastern Europe, publishing her work on the blog www.pullingatthreads.com. Her essay on feldmesterins – cemetery measuring women – was published in the recent anthology Strange Fire: Jewish Voices from the Pandemic, published by Ben Yehuda Press in 2021. She is one of the Yiddish Book Center’s 2023-24 Translation Fellows, for which she is translating the memoirs of Communist journalist, Gina Medem. Annie teaches Yiddish with the Workers’ Circle and YIVO, and this coming academic year will be teaching Yiddish language, history and culture at the Sorbonne university, Paris. Since 2018, Annie has been studying feminine and earth-based Jewish practice with the Kohenet Hebrew institute. She will be ordained as a Kohenet on August 18.
Sarah Chandler aka Kohenet Shamirah is a Brooklyn-based Jewish educator, artist, activist, healer, and poet. She teaches, writes and consults on issues related to Judaism, earth-based spiritual practice, respectful workplaces, mindfulness, and farming. An ordained Kohenet with the Hebrew Priestess Institute and a trainer for “Taamod: Stand Up!”, she is also is an advanced student of Kabbalistic dream work at The School of Images. Previously, Sarah served as the Director of Romemu Yeshiva, Chief Compassion Officer of Jewish Initiative for Animals, and Director of Earth Based Spiritual Practices at Hazon’s Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Currently, she is the CEO of Shamir Collective, as a coach and consultant to high profile artists and authors to launch new music and books, as well as lead trainer for Soft as a Rock: Public Speaking for Sensitive Souls.
Eleanor has long curly brown hair. She holds an accordian and smiles at the camera
Éléonore Welil is a French-American vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Éléonore Weill creates and performs soulful interpretations of Klezmer, Yiddish, French, Occitane music as well as original compositions, poems and improvisations. In addition to her social justice Yiddish music ensemble Tsibele, she performs and records internationally in a variety of ensembles with Frank London, Michael Winograd, Walter Thompson, Joey Weisenberg and the Hadar Ensemble, Kenny Wallesen, FADA, the Baroque Music Center of Versailles (C.M.B.V.), Orchestre National de Toulouse, Midwood, Les Saqueboutiers, Miqueu Montanaro, and many others. She also composed and played for Theater companies such as Doppelskope, Great Small Works and Bread and Puppets and performs at leading international festivals including Yiddish New York, the Ashkenaz Festival (Toronto), Kleztival (São Paulo), and KlezKanada (Quebec), Fun Dor Tsu Dor (Chateau Ligoure, France) on wooden flutes, piano, accordion, hurdy-gurdy, and as a lead singer.


July 9
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
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