This is an image of a Tallit and Tallit Bag belonging to B. Cohen. The Tallit (prayer shawl) was given to the father of the owner on the occasion of his wedding in New York in May 1948 by his maternal grandfather. The Tallit Bag was given to the owner by her father and was handmade by her maternal grandmother. The Tallit was used as the top of the Chuppah (wedding canopy) at the wedding of the owner’s daughter in 2003. Then it was worn by the owner when she led the Torah service at St Alban’s Masorti Synagogue for the first time.
The Masorti movement is a stream of Judaism which is traditional with a modern outlook. Masorti services are often egalitarian, which means women also take on the same leadership roles as men within the synagogue and in services.
The Tallit is a prayer shawl. The Tzitzit (knotted threads on all four corners of the Tallit) are the most important part of the Tallit, they represent the 613 Mitzvot/Commandments in the Torah. It is also commandment to wear tzitzit. The Torah instructs the Jewish people to wear ‘fringes’ on the corner of one’s garments twice which is why many wear a Tallit during prayer. Traditionally, men wear the Tallit, however women often choose to wear the Tallit in Jewish communities were they take on the same leadership roles, such as Reform, Liberal and Masorti communities.
The Tallit Bag which accompanies this Tallit was handmade and decorated with a Star of David. The Star of David (Magen David) is the six pointed star known as the universal symbol of Judaism. The Hebrew phrase Magen David literally translates to mean ‘shield of David’. Its use as the universal symbol for Judaism and Jewish identity was only recognised from around late 19th Century. Its meaning has many interpretations. For example, the six points of the star of David symbolises the six directions of G-d’s presence and rule over the universe; north, south, east, west, up and down.