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.