Cloth and Community
Image: Caravan by Arlene Witty.
Eight years ago Torah Stitch by Stitch was launched by Toronto-based Judaic textile artist, Temma Gentles. In this guest post, Lili Shain, President, Torah Stitch by Stitch, updates us on how the project has continued even during this challenging year: The project’s initial goal was to cross-stitch the entire Pentateuch. The astonishing response created a community of over 1500 participants in 29 countries, stitching not only Hebrew text, but also sections of the Scriptures in Greek and Qur’an in Arabic, plus over 500 exquisite illuminations. We realized that this massive gift of hearts and hands would assemble into a tapestry 7’ high and the length of a football pitch!
Image: Working together before Corona virus.
We were honoured to exhibit our “Tapestry of Spirit” at the Textile Museum of Canada June to December 2019. Scrolling through 10 galleries was half of the project, including an award-winning documentary and activity areas. Attendance included visitors from across Canada and the USA and over 20 other countries, further building broad community awareness. When the exhibition wrapped, we took a deep breath, and readied ourselves to assemble the second half of the tapestry. Then Corona struck.
Image: Label marking the end of assembly, pre-Corona virus.
With Ontario locked down and most of our cohort in the high-risk population, we could no longer work together. The closely bonded assembly group continued to Zoom chat weekly. We received a modest Government of Canada grant to engage Seniors at home during the pandemic. This enabled us to purchase the balance of assembly materials and to develop an “at home” plan tailored to the skills and interests of participants. Coaching is done on video calls, and finishing touches are made by our most experienced stitchers. We are back on track to finish in late 2021.
Corona has even worked its way into the Tapestry with a topical illumination that will be sewn in next to one of the many plague references in the Bible, and a little label (pictured) marking where pre-Corona assembly stopped.
Lili Shain, President, Torah Stitch by Stitch
Further information at torahstitchbystitch.org
So glad to know that things are moving forward, albeit slowly. This was a wonderful project to work on, and an experience unlike anything else I have ever done. I hope to see all of it in person someday before too long.
I admire this project. To view all the women gathering with their needles is lovely to my eye!! Marvelous to read about the project Appreciate all the photos.