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Pomegranate Guild > Friends Record Legacy of Rita Lenkin Hawkins with Memorial Quilt

by Kathy Pulda, Worcester, MA

This quilt was made in the memory of Rita Lenkins Hawkins, who passed away two years ago on Erev Yom Kippur. It was created as a commemorative quilt from those whose lives she touched and inspired, as a caring person and Judaic needleworker. We hope that this quilt serves as a living tribute to the work of Rita's heart and hands.

I have not met, in person, anyone who contributed a square, although I feel like I've known most of them forever. We all have chosen to express our appreciation to Rita through the work of our hands. As the squares came in, it became apparent to me that I was in the company of some of the most talented Judaic needleworkers and artisans around today. It has been a privilege to coordinate this project. I loved every minute of it, from receiving each square, to each stitch piecing the squares together, to the final hand quilting and completion. I have shared the quilt with both the Greater Boston Chapter of the Pomegranate Guild, as well as the Pioneer Valley Chapter, which comprises members from Western Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. All who have seen it have been more than duly impressed. For each of those who contributed to it, I want to thank them for helping to make this quilt come to fruition.

Editor's Note: The blocks are discussed in the order of their position on the quilt. Click here to see a picture of the entire quilt.

Top left: Debbie Sichel ( expressed her thanks for the work Rita did to promote quilting in the Jewish community. Because of her work, Debbie became inspired and eventually designed a set of foundations for the alephbet. Her block uses the aleph, bet and gimel from the Hebrew alphabet on a blue Judaic print background.

Top Center: Amy Eglowstein ( created a rainbow square embroidered with "Bits and Pieces" and "RitaNeedle" in the blue of the masthead of the newsletter. She was planning to embroider some stars onto the pastel fabric, but her mother passed away during this time.She forwarded the square to me, with pastel fabrics, with which she hoped that I would try to use to make the stars for her square. When I received the fabrics, I knew that they would be perfect for the border, as they incorporated many of the colors of the squares.With Amy's permission, I created with these fabrics the beautiful border of the quilt.

Top Right: Randi Paul-Heskins' ( square (shown at left) incorporates a rendering of the phrase "Eishet Chayil" (a woman of valor) calligraphied by her husband, Dan, along with the emblem for the Pomegranate Guild. The square was beautifully embroidered by Randi, and is truly a work of art.

Middle Left: Liz Lehman ( made a square which also incorporates the "Eishet Chayil" theme.Her square features an appliqued pomegranate, with the phrase, embroidered around it which reads,"An accomplished woman, who can find, far beyond pearls is her value. "The word, "Rita" is embroidered in gold in the center of the pomegranate. (This block is shown near the top of the story.)

Center Square: Kathy Pulda ( quilted and appliqued the Star of David in blues and greens. Echo stitching around the star reads, "For Rita, in appreciation for your inspiration, ruach (spirit), zest for life, and guidance. Sorely missed, dearly loved."

Middle Right: This square (shown at right) was created by three women from Atlanta, whose collective talents are evidenced by this beautiful square. Flora Rosefsky ( drew the piece, Marilyn Peskin-Kaufman ( embroidered it, and Barbara Rucket ( did the beading. Symbols include a Torah, Shabbat candles, grapes on the vine, the heavens and of course, a pomegranate. Flora Rosefsky also designed the logo of the Peach State Stitchers, which is seen in the square at the bottom right.

Bottom Left: Nancy Taffel ( made a whimsical block, which incorporates the symbols of Rita's interests, including a tiny "computer" charm, Jewish Pomegranate Guild, Six Million Stitches, community projects, and finally, simply, the word FRIEND.

Bottom Center: Created by Marny Fair-Fischer (, the square's background is "the quilt for a cure" fabric scattered with pink ribbons. Printed on it is Marny's signature signoff, "Gentle as you go." Marny also contributed to the Hadassah alef-bet project in Israel and says Rita's friendship helped her through her own husband's cancer treatments.

Bottom Right: This square (shown at left) was created by Ellie Marmer ( and her sister, Kate Emerich ( Ellie, was one of the founding members, along with Barbara Rucket and Flora Rosefsky (middle-right square) of the Peach State Stitchers, in Atlanta, Georgia, the only Pomegranate Guild south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Rita was a great comfort, to Ellie's sister, Kate, who was going through chemotherapy at the same time as Rita. Their square features the logo of their chapter, peaches alternating with pomegranates, with a quote from the midrash about friendship.

We hope that this quilt will bring comfort to her family as it reflects how Rita touched us with her kindness, guidance and strength.



Originally Posted: February 5, 2002
Last Updated: August 1, 2010

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