“She is a Tree of Life”
COLLABORATION WITH DOROTHY ROSS
WINNER OF THE SPERTUS JUDAICA PRIZE
Because “torah”, “wisdom”, and “understanding” are feminine nouns in Hebrew we dressed the scroll like a 17th century Italian bride. Israel became God’s bride by accepting Torah at Mount Sinai. This concept is elaborated in several symbolic ketubot (marriage contracts) for Shavuot (Pentacost).
The voluptuous Torah mantle style of baroque Italy connoted to us celebration and freedom of movement, unlike the restrained textile form and adornments (bells, breastplate) of Ashenazic covers more suggestive of the high priest. Although our bride is heavily cloaked for modesty, glimpses of the Torah behind the white dress are intentional. We combine many stitching and beading techniques to deal playfully with Baroque costume, its layering and showy linings, embellishing the fabrics with antique metal braid, hand-crocheted lace, dime-store trims, and mylar.
The three-dimensional beaded locket is both breastplate and amulet. The pomegranate suggests fertility as well as commitment to the mitzvot (commandments). The locket bears three crowns of Torah; four ‘ruby’ seeds represent the matriarchs and all Women of Valour; and a circle of 18 amber beads symbolizes chai (life). Crimson ribbons repel the evil eye. Seven barley stalks around the hem reference Shavuot, with seven seeds in each for counting the omer.