This evening, we will use our newly created Temple Beth Sholom community tallit for the first time. We will wrap it around the shoulders of our congregant Samantha Abrams-Widdicombe and her fiancé, Cesar Vargas Nunez to offer them a blessing for their upcoming marriage (this pre-wedding blessing ritual is called an aufruf).
We created this gorgeous tallit during our artist-in-residence weekend this past February with artist/scholar Daniel Abramson. Many of our TBS members of all ages added to its beautiful design, choosing colors, patterns and motifs that were meaningful to you. Your handiwork, your labor of love has truly imbued this communal tallit with a sense of meaning and value in a way that none of us could have accomplished on our own.
When we wrap this tallit around Samantha’s and Cesar’s shoulders tonight, they will be enveloped in the physical blessings of all of our TBS community. They will feel your embrace hugging their shoulders, wishing them well as they embark on the next journey of their lives together.
We hope you will join us tonight at 7 pm for this beautiful Erev Shabbat service and for the special celebratory Oneg Shabbat afterward.
A Tallit Poem, by Yehuda Amichai
Whoever wrapped in a tallit in one’s youth will never forget:
taking it out of the soft sack, opening the folded tallit,
spreading the border along its length (sometimes embroidered and sometimes embossed in gold). Afterwards, a great sweep over the head like the heavens,
like a chuppah, like a parachute. Afterwards, folding it around one’s head as if playing hide and seek, and then wrapping the body in it, tight tight,
letting it fold you like a cocoon and then opening it like wings for flying.
And why are there stripes and not black-white squares like a chessboard?
Because squares are finite without hope
and stripes come from infinity and go on to infinity
like the runways at the airport so that angels may land and take off.
When you wrap yourself in a tallit you cannot forget coming out of a swimming pool or the sea and being wrapped in a great white toweland casting it over one’s head and wrapping in it, tight tight and shivering a little and laughing and —– blessing.
Samantha and Cesar, as we wrap you in this TBS community tallit tonight, may it be the beginning of a lifetime of angels landing on you, wrapping you in their wings, watching over you, protecting you and granting you a long and happy life together, a life of many blessings. Mazal Tov!
Rabbi Sharon L. Sobel
Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Sholom