Tu B’Av, T’shuvah and Tying it Together

Back in August 2009, I took a leap and nervously jumped into the blogging waters. This was before JewishGPS and so many of my colleagues were blogging already. They were getting some national attention and I knew that I needed to plunge into the pool in order to “keep up.”

I had no idea what I wanted to write about first or what catchy name I was going to use, so I sat down and started brainstorming things I had an opinion about. Ultimately, I landed on the title above “Tu B’Av, T’Shuvah and Tying it all Together: Jewish Musings about Daily Life.” Below is a copy of that first blog post (I intend to share many of them here on this blog in the coming weeks/months. I hadn’t thought about this blog in a long time, but today, I went and visited the grave of the little girl I mentioned in this blog, and checked to make sure the pink butterfly-shaped stone I had left there on her English Yahrzteit in Dec 2020 was still there (it was). And I as touched it, I remembered I had written this so many years ago.

Ultimately this blog is about creating your own ritual artifacts and giving yourself permission to customize Judaism for you. At some point, I will write about what I learned about the importance of this in identity development via my dissertation work. The “Tying it Together” of my blog title is a nod to the tzitzit on this talit but also on all talit – and how we can be commanded to wear tzitzit BUT how we wear them is up to us.

All About this Talit

I was adamantly opposed to wearing a talit. It just wasn’t what I was brought up with and I am not one to be forced into something I don’t want to do. As part of my job in Orange County, we had the teens make their own tallitot. But how could I ask each of them to do it if I wasn’t willing to do the same?
So I set out to make a talit that meant something to me.

  • The butterflies are in memory of a very special little girl Shoshana Tikvah Cohen z’l who passed away at 3 years old. She loved butterflies and she loved pink. The irony is that Shoshana was being raised in a modern Orthodox family and ultimately wouldn’t be a talit-wearer herself. But her Ima gets me … and gets this talit.
  • I tied three of the four tzitzit corners in Southern California. The fourth I tied in Jerusalem.
  • My original talit bag was actually a pillow cover (the zipable throw-pillow kind) that I bought in Daliyat el Carmel – a Druze Village with amazing textiles. I lost that case and hope to get myself another one on a future trip to Israel. (UPDATE: I did indeed get another one in the same Druze market – see to right.) The pattern in the case matched a wall-hanging that one of my best friends has hanging in his kitchen (we bought them at the same place at the same time while staffing a Birthright Israel trip).

Other facts about my talit:

  • The directions I use for tying tzitzit (and teaching others to do so) come from a Torah Aura Instant Lesson.
  • I used fabric glue to put it all together.
  • My cat Allie has chewed two of the strings, I guess I need to fix that at some point. (Update: Allie passed in 2015 and the strings are still short … I now can’t imagine replacing them as they are a sweet reminder of her.)
  • I almost got beat up in a Jerusalem hotel but a group of young haredim who didn’t approve of a woman with a talit. Thank goodness for hotel security and a good friend!
  • If I am ever without my talit, I won’t wear another one
The pink butterfly and some pink hearts I placed on December 25, 2020 (her English Yarhtzeit)
Shoshana’s grave that I decorated with colorful butterflies on her 20th Yahrtzeit. Forever 3.

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