Wrapped In Tradition, An Exhibit Of Jewish Prayer Shawls, At The Jewish Cultural Center

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A display of contemporary and traditional Jewish prayer shawls called tallitot (tallitot, plural for tallit) from the community, around the country, and Israel is on exhibit at the Jewish Cultural Center through Jan. 15. 

Tallitot, made by 21 artists, showcases a diversity of design and styles. Tallit in the exhibit include those woven, embroidered, hand-painted, appliqued and tie-dyed.  A biography of each artist and information about each tallit is also included. Tallitot owned and used by community members are included with the exhibit as examples of how this religious tradition is locally maintained. According to Ann Treadwell, Jewish Federation program director, “This exhibit represents an inspiring selection of fabric art that contains a strong spiritual message.”  

A tallit is the shawl a Jewish worshipper wraps around him/herself during prayer. A tallit is worn only during the morning prayers, except for the Kol Nidre/ Yom Kippur Eve service – arguably the holiest occasion of the Jewish calendar year. The garment can be made out of linen, wool, silk or synthetics, so long as the biblical prohibition against the wearing of clothing combining linen and wool is observed.  

According to religious tradition, it is not the garment part of the tallit that makes it special, regardless of whether or not the garment is plain or adorned.  Rather, on the corners of each square or rectangular tallit are placed tzitzit (fringes).  The tzitzit are the visual reminders to the wearer of God’s laws (see Numbers 15:37-41).   It is the tzitzit that make the garment important.  The tallit is not worn at night because the tzitzit are to be seen by daylight. 

Gallery hours at the Jewish Cultural Center, 5461 North Terrace Road, are Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m.-4 p.m.. The gallery is closed on Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1. For more information about the exhibit or to schedule a docent tour please contact Ms. Treadwell, atreadwell@jewishchattanooga.com or 493-0270 ext. 13.

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