Friday, November 02, 2012

Challah covers

My daughter got married this summer and when her future mother-in-law invited me to a bridal shower last spring, I wanted to give her something personal but also something she would use. Something homemade, I thought, would be perfect, but nothing so big that it would be awkward for the newlyweds if it didn't suit their taste. I finally decided on challah covers.

 What are challah covers, you ask? On Friday night in Jewish homes, the sabbath is welcomed by lighting candles and saying blessings over the wine and bread. The traditional challah, a braided bread rich with eggs, is covered with a decorated cloth.

This challah cover says, in Hebrew, shabbat shalom -- peaceful sabbath. I think Hebrew letters are absolutely gorgeous, but I don't read Hebrew and so I wasn't at all sure that I could make free pieced letters that would still be recognizable. My son-in-law's family are Israeli and would definitely know if I botched the Hebrew, so I was pretty nervous about this. Google to the rescue! I saw this fabulous challah cover on Malka Dubrawsky's blog, A Stitch in Dye. Armed with that and free piecing techniques I learned from Tonya Ricucci (see her book, Word Play), I stitched this up. I love the colors! Now that I know it's legible and actually really and truly says "shabbat shalom," I may try another that's a little wonkier. How much fun would that be?

The design of this batik challah cover has a history. In one of the Renaissance synagogues still standing in the Ghetto Nuovo in Venice, there are floor tiles set in a design that I copied (above). But the tile was laid with an obvious mistake in one of the sections, as a reminder that only God is perfect. Check out the lower left block here and you'll find the mistake. As I told my daughter, I sketched the tiles from memory (no photos were allowed) and may not have gotten the basic block quite right -- but after all, only God is perfect!

The third challah cover I made from the Circle of Life I posted about here. I knew when I posted about it that I wanted to turn it into a challah cover, but didn't say anything because I didn't want to spoil the surprise! I'm thinking of turning the small kaleidoscope quilt in my last post into a challah cover, too.


Quiltdivajulie said...

Beautiful and so very special!

The kaleidoscope will be marvelous as a challah cover.

Tonya Ricucci said...

very special gifts. I think the letters look great, but have no idea if they're legible.

Tamar said...

great challah covers, the letters looks good. I want to do Hebrew wonky letters for some time. I hope to do it one day.

Kaquim Shirley said...

I really like your cover, it made the letters quite legible, I don't know Hebrew but I can read Shalom there. I wanted to ask the dimensions of your cover. and where did you get the pattern.