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INVITATION TO AN ONLINE LECTURE
“Fabrics of Devotion: Religious Textiles in the Eastern Mediterranean”
The Jewish Prayer Shawl Tallit
Dr. Esther Juhasz (Shenkar College /The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)
Wednesday, 20 October 2021, 19:00 (Turkish time, GMT+3)
The tallit, the fringed garment, is worn by observant Jewish males to this day. The appending of the fringes – tzitzit – to one’s attire is a fundamental biblical commandment, and its significance transcends the realm of dress. Its fulfillment is deemed equivalent to the fulfillment of all the mitzvot (commandments) a Jew is expected to perform.
The commandment is imbued with mnemonic, mystical, and magical meanings, and is expressed in the halakhic literature and in the wealth of local custom and interpretation. These bear on such material matters as the fabric, size, color, and knotting of the tassels, on who may make the tallit or knot the tassel strings, and on how, when, and where the garments should be worn and more. Drawing on decades of research of aspects Sephardi material culture in the Ottoman Empire and on her experience working with the ethnographic collections of The Israel Museum (Jerusalem), Esther Juhasz will shed light onto the vital role and the multiple implications of threads, knots, fringes, and fabrics in Jewish ritual life, past and present.
Dr. Esther Juhasz is a researcher of Jewish material culture who studies dress, textiles and visual religion in the intersection between art, folk culture and popular culture. She has worked for many years in curatorial and research positions at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. There she specialized in ethnography and published the book Sephardi Jews in the Ottoman Empire. Aspects of Material Culture (1990) for which she received the Dawidowic Prize for Ethnography and Folklore.
She holds an M.A in Art History and a Ph.D. in the Folklore and Folk Culture Studies department at the Hebrew University. Currently she is teaching at Shenkar College of Engineering Design and Art in Ramat Gan. Her recent publications include The Jewish Wardrobe. From The Collections of the Israel Museum (2012), of which she is both the editor and principal author, Trousseau Lists of Jewish Brides from Izmir Between an Official document and a Personal Narrative (2015), and Visibility, Perception and Memory in Clothes: Dilemmas of Identity in the Dress of Jewish Women in Immigrant Communities (2020).
Photo: Tzitzit (fringes) of the Tallit. © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Mauro Magliani