I am a current Fellow at JOIN for Justice. By day (and, of course, some nights!) I work as a union organizer at Boston Medical Center, building a group of physician leaders to advocate for health justice in the communities around our hospital. In the evenings, I return from our busy hospital to my quiet kitchen, with a floor loom tucked under the window.
I learned how to weave five years ago, and was quickly hooked–I found a loom that was older than me on Craigslist, and hauled it up the steep stairs of my apartment building.
I wove my first tallit–a Jewish prayer shawl–for my brother Caleb on his bar mitzvah, and since then weaving tallitot has become my artistic focus. I love the colors, the texture, and the slow, meditative process of watching cloth appear under my fingers. I start out with white bamboo and tencel, both eco-friendly plant-based fibers. I dye them especially for each tallit, and then weave the background fabric, the atarah (the neckband) and the corner pieces separately. Throughout the process–designing color schemes, dyeing fibers, warping the loom, weaving patterns, tyeing the tzitzit–I imagine the person who will worship in the tallit I am creating, and think of it wrapping that person in warmth, and beauty, and prayer.
I stumbled onto the application for the JOIN Fellowship while plotting a move from Toronto to Boston last spring, and I am so thrilled that I ended up here. The JOIN Fellowship is having a real impact on how I think of myself as an organizer, and as a Jewish artist. The opportunity to spend Friday mornings with a cohort of Fellows organizing for justice around the city, and experienced and challenging trainers, gives me tangible skills that I use in my work as an organizer, as well as inspiration and community that enriches my tallit weaving.
I am grateful that JOIN exists to provide training and community for people like me, and, of course, financial support is needed to keep everything here going and growing. I am looking for someone to commission a tallit from me in exchange for a donation of $500 or more to JOIN for Justice. Through the commission process, you will have the opportunity to connect with me, sharing ideas for what colors and textures you would like in your tallit, and seeing photos of the tallit through the various stages as it is created. My hope is that through this commission process, the tallit becomes something that you can really connect to and find personally meaningful, as well as serving as a tribute to your support of JOIN’s work. I think this is a particularly good fit for a b’nai mitzvah student, but I would love to work with anyone who is interested!