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Why Don’t Jews Quilt?
by LouiseSilk
 Bubbe Wisdom
Dec 15, 2010 | 10539 views | 12 12 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Olam Ha Ba: The World To Come; 1994
Olam Ha Ba: The World To Come; 1994
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Chuppah Commission
Chuppah Commission
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In the beginning of my career I was very aware of the fact that Jews didn’t quilt and quilters were not Jewish and so I very carefully kept those two important aspects of my life separated. It wasn’t until my second one-woman show in 1994 at the Jewish Community Center that I began to understand the importance of using Judaism in my quilting process.  

Before that when I would meet a Jew whose mother quilted I would discover one of two things about her. Either she was a convert and her mother was not Jewish or her parents had grown up in a rural area where there were very few Jews.

Then I read an article by Julie Silber about The Reiter Quilt made by a Jewish family from McKeesport and understood why Jewish women did not quilt.

Around the turn of the century when Jews came here from Europe they stayed in their shtetl-like communities and had very little exposure to non-Jews. These women enjoyed the needlework of Europe: knitting, crocheting, needlepoint and embroidery.  They did not know patchwork quilting because it was an American form of needlework and not a part of their heritage.

Which brings us to me: an assimilated Jew with lots of exposure to all things American including quilts enabling my artistic expression in this exciting form of needlework as an integral part of my Jewish life. 

Comments
(12)
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Etty Robinson
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January 21, 2013
Yes, Jewish women do quilt. I have a quilting group called the http://zahavaquilters.blogspot.co.il/ and we meet in my home every Monday. We live in Betar Illit, Israel and other surround areas of Jerusalem. Quilting is for everyone.
john s-177
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April 03, 2012
i have been researching quilting in the jewish culture and i am having a really hard time finding anything
embroid6000
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December 16, 2011
Embroidery, knitting and crocheting are an art. Blanket, covers and cushion covers are also the type of a quilts. The quilts have no geographical boundaries. So,it may use any where in the world. This is the learning from this post.

rayna gillman
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February 15, 2011
Louise -- My grandmother always had a needle in her hand: embroidery, knitting, crocheting. She used the cotton scraps from the dress factory where she worked to make blanket covers (now known as "duvet") for the whole family. This was European tradition for the eiderdowns. We safety-pinned our blankets to the inside and there were ties at the bottom to keep the blankets in. I never saw a top sheet till I went to college.

I fell in love with the geometry of quilts at an antique show and that was my beginning: color, texture, visual impact.

My grandmother was very proud of me and used to give me fabrics to use. After she died, I took apart some blanket covers and incorporated the fabrics into all of my quilts. Now, of course, I print my own fabrics and make art. In my Poland Quilt series, you will see how being Jewish informed that work. Yes, there are now a lot of Jewish quilters - but 40 years ago, not.

http://www.studio78.net

Rayna

Dee Danley-Brown
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January 05, 2011
Oops, meant to say that I taught at the 92nd St Y
Dee Danley-Brown
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January 05, 2011
Jews do quilt!!! I taught quiltmaking at that great Jewish institution in NYC for several years and had a number of Jewish students!!! Yes, Jews do quilt!!!!
Gaby Richard
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January 05, 2011
I, too, am a Jewish quilter. I often use Jewish themes in my quilts. I didn't start quilting until I moved from NYC to Massachusetts. I love the design and piecing process. I like completing projects.
Cindy Richard
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January 05, 2011
I live in Israel and am part of a thriving group of quilters called the Israel Quilters Association. (http://www.israeli-quilt.com) I realize the site is mostly in Hebrew, but you can get an idea.

Jews do quilt and some of the work produced here is the best in the world. The level of talent is amazing.

We hold biannual day long seminars and there are always contests and exhibits of work done by the members. The themes of our work is not always of a Jewish nature, but many times it is. I like to take photos around Israel and then create these in fabric. Just wanted to update your information...

Cindyrquilts

http://cindyrquilts.wordpress.com/

AdeleThomas
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December 20, 2010
For part of my studies I researched into embroidery in Morocco where the Jewish community were very well known for wonderul decoration on clothes, hangings and furnishings. I wondered did they ever embellish bed covers in any way or just not by sandwiching layers together and stitching? My great grandparents were jewish but I never got to meet them, so many things I would like to know.
Sara Sew What's New
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December 17, 2010
I'm glad you found quilting, cultural precedents notwithstanding... Come check out our online community for sewing and quilting enthusiasts, Sew What's New, at http://www.sew-whats-new.com.
Mary Lou
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December 15, 2010
so glad you didn't 'not quilt'...
Ann Willman
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December 15, 2010
You know, I always realized this but was embarrassed to ask you. (Don't know why) It all makes sense.