As Jews, we are commanded not to destroy or waste anything through the commandment of bal tashchit. One area that we really need to look at is how we use, waste and dispose of textiles.
Once upon a time, people cherished the clothes, blankets and textiles they used. Making textiles was a laborious and communal process from growing the plants for material and dye to repairing cherished and irreplaceable garments. Fast forward to today where we have fast fashion and literally throw out textiles that we don’t like or don’t know how to repair. Our disrespect and overconsumption of textiles is wreaking havoc on the environment and on our cultural skills and traditions.
In an effort to move us away from the devastation of fast fashion and to enable us to lead, inspire and empower our community to become shomrei adamah, protectors of the earth, we are offering a limited supply of repurposed, naturally-dyed, handmade matzah covers.
Making these covers took a village! In 2021, our friend Karen was gifted with a donation of a variety of Irish linens that had traveled from Belfast in the 1950s to Toronto via Karen’s friend Kathryn’s mom. Understanding the true value of textiles, Kathryn and her mom held onto the linens rather than throw them out. When Karen received them, she spearheaded a project with Shoresh and local artists to make matzah covers that represent our values and honour the work that went into making the linens.
The process was collaborative and extensive. First, we dyed the linens in avocado dye. Next, we distributed them to different artists using a variety of techniques including hand-stitched embroidery, applique and printmaking. Afterwards, they were stitched with multiple layers to create space for matzah and the afikomen.
We are thrilled to bring these matzah covers to your seder table. Supplies are very limited. Order yours on the Shoresh Shuk today.
Karen Chisvin began working with textiles as a young girl playing with fabric scraps under her grandfather’s cutting table. Her current work with repurposed textiles echoes that past. The matzah cover image is adapted from a piece of anonymous embroidery and pays homage to the unknown stitcher.
Rochelle Rubinstein is a Toronto-based printmaker, painter, fabric and book artist and community arts facilitator. She is also steward of Bela Farm in Hillsburgh, Ontario.
Allie Shier, a visual artist based in Toronto, has loved drawing, painting, and working with textiles for as long as she can remember. She loves taking inspiration from nature to create art, and especially loves that her work at Shoresh allows for so much creativity. Allie’s more recent artistic adventures have involved natural dying and printmaking, as well as repurposing old fabrics to make quilts and punch needle pieces. Some of her work can be found on instagram at @alma._handmade.
Bruria Lindenberg Cooperman is a retired school teacher, aspiring artist, proud Bubbie of 8. she is also the author of For This I Survived? Children of Survivors Beyond the Trauma (on Amazon).