Women of the Shawl

spools of thread in a loom

In my community, there are women who make tallitot – for themselves, or for others – often for a special occasion, such as a bar/bat mitzvah. Some are woven on looms, some are made of handpainted silk, some are quilted. I dedicate this poem to them and to all women everywhere who are crafters of tallitot.

These are the women of the shawl,
walking with the Torah,
Faces beaming,
Light shining from within.
Each one a stunning work of art
made with loving hands –
young hands with quick, nimble fingers,
older hands slowed by arthritis.
Each one crafted with special care –
woven, painted quilted.
Each one telling a unique story –
a geometric pattern,
images of Jerusalem, the holy city –
image of our foremothers
singing and dancing –
the four directions, the four seasons,
and everywhere we turn,
the seasons of the soul.
I watch them walk with the Torah
and I feel the shawl
that is wrapped around my shoulders –
and deep inside me, deep within,
I feel the shawl
that is woven in my bones.
And deep inside me, deep within,
I feel my heartbeat dancing
to the music of my soul.

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