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Pomegranate Guild > Beyond Blue and White: Color in Judaic Stitchery

by Elizabeth Tarnove

Do needlework projects for Jewish holidays always HAVE to be blue and white? It would seem so, looking at the limited selections in most Judaica and craft stores. Blue and white represent the colors of the flag of Israel which, in turn, was inspired by the colors of a tallit (prayer shawl). However, the Torah and other writings include many reference to bright, happy colors. Even tallit now come in a variety of hues.

If you are tired of blue and white for all your holiday stitching, here are a list of alternatives suggested by the colors of the season and the symbolism of the holidays themselves. These are only my ideas, feel free to use them as a launching pad for your own creativity.

Rosh Hashana
Jewish New Year. Traditionally, apples and honey are eaten to insure a sweet year. Taking my cue from this tradition, I use red and gold for this holiday. For quilting, I have even found apple and bee fabrics. At right, Bonnie Vorspan's Tzedakah box incorporates these colors beautifully.

Fall Harvest Festival. Fall colors go well here, though I take my cue from the decoration of a suukkot booth and use "fruit" colors. For quilting, fruit novelty prints would work well.

Festival of Lights. Nowhere does pale blue and white look more dismal than in the dead of winter. I use a rich royal blue in combination with hot pink, lime green, bright yellow and other "party" colors. A variety of Hanukkah fabrics are found in quilt stores which use deep blues in combination with metallic gold.

Tu B'Shevat
Jewish Arbor Day. It is traditional on this day to plant trees and celebrate the gift of trees by eating fruits and nuts. Green is an obvious color choice. Though in many parts of the country it is still snowy outside, in my native Southern California many trees are beginning to send out pink and white blossoms to signify the beginning of spring. I would combine these with green and look for prints with trees, apple blossoms, and fruit motifs.

Feast of Lots. This is carnival time and the colors should reflect that. Masks and costumes are part of the celebration and the colors should bright and happy. As an alternative, I once saw a charming Purim quilt done in light and dark browns. Cut in triangles, the shapes were sewn together to resemble hamentaschen (three-cornered pastry).

Exodus from Slavery in Egypt. Spring colors work here, although I tend to dislike the pastels usually available at this time of year. For Passover I use green (representing karpas and the promise of spring) and purple (representing grapes and the wine we drink at seder). Fabric motifs include grapes, Egyptian prints, matzo prints, frogs and grasshoppers (the latter two being a kid-friendly representation of two or the 10 plagues).

Israeli Independence Day
Anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. Blue and white are appropriate here as flag colors.

Feast of Weeks. Beginning exactly seven weeks after Passover, Shavout commemorates Moses bringing the ten commandments to the Israelites. Fresh flowers are a traditional decoration for this holiday and could be incorporated into color schemes and designs.

Copyright © 2002 by Elizabeth Tarnove
Last Updated: August 1, 2010

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