Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ethiopian Bat Mitzvah Project

I was hired at the Mercaz Klita (Absorption Center) for the 2011 Ethiopian Bat Mitzvah Project.  I taught 10 girls and their mothers (to our surprise, only a couple of the mothers already knew how) embroidery.  This project was for the mother’s to help their daughters.  Basically the mothers and daughters learned together.  The first learning design I gave them was a chai.

I gave them other designs to practice and improve their embroidery skills.  Some of the girls picked it up rather quickly and some just kept pulling the threads too tightly.  I really enjoyed teaching them.  Several of the girls would stay after our allotted time and one day, they even asked me to start an hour early.  The girls all sat around me while working on their final embroidery squares.  The final embroidery squares I put together into a quilted wall hanging.  After I planned the quilt and ordered all the material, I found out that I would be one square short since there were only 9 mothers.  There were twin girls in the group.  I decided to embroider the Israeli flag to make up the last square of the quilt.

Some of my favorites from the final squares embroidered were the dove of peace, Queen of Sheba, the Shabbat candles and Joseph in his coat of many colors.

The girls were using thread colors that were more modern colors and their mothers used the basic colors that were used in Ethiopia.  To tie them all together in the quilt, I decided to frame the mother’s squares with white and blue and the girls with the traditional colors of green, orange, red and yellow.  The border surrounding the entire wall hanging was a blue and white flower print.
I worked a couple of 10 hour days fixing some of their embroidery squares so the threads not totally tied off correctly wouldn’t unravel and sewing extra pieces of material to the bunched up squares to make them square again and then sewing together the quilt top and ironing it.  I worked 12 hours straight sewing the batting and backing to the top of the quilt, as well as a started on the quilting.  I had one week to get it ready for everyone to see it after their Bat Mitzvah.
Several of the girls asked me if I was coming to their Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem.  The Bar/Bat Mitzvah was held at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem.  It was a joint Bar/Bat Mitzvah with twin families from England.  I really enjoyed the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.  There was an Ethiopian rabbi and a rabbi from England with a wonderful voice.  First the Bar Mitzvah boys came in and then their fathers.  They donned Tefillin before the Bat Mitzvah girls came in.  The rabbi from England sang Eishet Chayil to escort the girls into the shul.

The day after the Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem, the British families were invited up to Tsfat to the Mercaz Klita to see all the Bar/Bat Mitzvah projects, the embroidery quilt was just one of the projects.  It was a great project and wonderful to be included in it!

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