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My Mother, My Grandmother and I: Finding My First Tallit

July 14, 2015 2 min read

This beautiful story, written by our Communications Intern Hannah Elbaum, was published last week on the Jewish Women's Archive blog.  See the first few paragraphs below, and read the rest of the post here.  

My grandmother, my mother, and I walked into a store. Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right? Actually, the three of us were on a mission to find a tallit for me. My bat mitzvah was approaching, and, since neither my mom nor my grandmother had a tallit of her own, they both wanted to accompany me.

As I made my way around shelves of hanukiyahs and stuffed dreydels, I saw only three racks of tallitot. White tallitot with blue stripes, cream colored ones with Stars of David, and multicolored shawls printed with a scene of Jerusalem all hung from the racks. These were identified as “Bar Mitzvah Tallit”—clearly meant for boys. The “Bat Mitzvah Tallit” rack, designated for girls, was much more sparse. Most were white, a band of pink here or there, but it seemed that rather than have a feminine color, the designers preferred to downplay any reference to gender at all. Although I did not want entirely bubblegum pink, I was hoping for more selection, and more artistic choices than just stripes.

Luckily, we had plenty of time before the big day, and this was not the only store near my house that sold tallit. A few months later, the three of us went to another Judaica shop. In the back, stacks of tallit perched precariously on floor to ceiling shelves. Every color of the rainbow jumped out at me; the tallitot were organized by designer rather than by gender. The shop owner began pulling out one after another, draping them over me, and offering her opinion on which ones she liked.

Read the rest of Hannah' story on the JWA blog here.  

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