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Pomegranate Guild > The Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework: Sharing Tradition

by Carol Wien

The following are excerpts from The Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework: Sharing Tradition by Carol Wien - a collection of interviews consolidated for a research paper in American Folk Craft, a graduate English course at Georgia State University, 2001. Carol recently presented these findings at a meeting of the Peachtree State Stitchers.

(from the PREFACE)

As I searched for meaning in the items which the Pomegranate members were making as needlework projects, I looked back to a book that I had in my library for almost twenty years. I had seen the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibition of "Precious Legacy" which became the title for the book that commemorated the legacy of Judaic treasures throughout the text as well as catalogued the exhibition.

Symbols of the legacy included the historical legacy of these treasures as well as the symbols of the legacy contained in community life, the legacy contained in family and home life, as well as the legacy contained in tragedy and transcendence of the Holocaust.

All of these interesting women have an agenda to share knowledge, friendship, sympatico, and Jewish tradition.

Professor John A. Burrison describes Folk Art as having "a [that] meaning hinges on informal learning from others in one's community, the handing on of traditions from generation to generation...Folk artists refine old designs to satisfy community tastes, drawing their inspiration from the groups to which they belong

"Folk arts are learned traditionally..folk arts are community shared...folk arts bring the past into the present...folk arts are flexible...folk objects can be both useful and beautiful...folk objects are handmade-in an inherited tradition."

What makes the Pomegranate Guild members bearers of tradition is that they are sharing with each other the knowledge of making some needlework item with "its focus on enhancing Jewish life and ritual" according to member Flora Rosefsky, for the handing down of "Judaic symbolism" in the needlework and crafts in which they participate. "When you make a challah cover or a quilt to celebrate Israel, or a are creating Judaica" says Flora. Their projects are all based upon Jewish ideas and traditions.

The names of participants who shared their personal needlecraft stories in this collection of interviews were Lillian Abramowitz; Annette Easton; Laraine Fine; Maury Fradkin, MD; Sylvia Kaye; Kathy Kennebeck; Ellie Marmer; Pat Pugrant; Flora Rosefsky; Ellen Rosintoski; Barbara Rucket; Clara Safra; Margie Steiner; Nancy Taffel; and Sue Winner.

Carol Wien teaches Humanities and Speech Communications at Georgia Perimeter College. Author of The Great American Log Cabin Quilt Book, published in 1979, her quilts are in several permanent collections including The Museum of American Folk Art in New York as well as The Ben Gurion University of The Negev in Israel.

© Copyright 2001 by Carol Wien, reprinted with permission

Originally Posted: February 22, 2002
Last Updated: August 1, 2010

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