Quilt Tzedakah


The Jewish New Year, which begins at sundown this coming Wednesday, is a time for introspection. A busy Jewish quilter in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who prefers to remain anonymous, sent me this message to share with others as we approach the High Holy Days:
“When I became a Jewish woman in 1996, I learned two phrases in Hebrew: tzedakah, which translates as justice and refers to charitable giving; and tikkun olam, which translates literally as “to repair the world” and means social action in English. It was not until ten years later, when I began quilting, that I found a way of making these words truly my own.

Every third or fourth quilt I make now is what I call a tzedakah quilt (one is shown here). Through my guild, many other quilters and I have donated quilts to our community’s women’s shelter. Learning about this program also inspired me to start donating quilts to a local children’s hospital, where there is an ongoing need for twin-size and baby quilts for the children admitted. I have also donated quilts for benefits, such as for our hospice care facility, and of course, I have given away many quilts just to family and friends.

These are my ways of giving back (tzedakah) and repairing a broken world (tikkun olam). The gift of a quilt has always been a gift of practicality and beauty, given with the hope of brightening a person’s surroundings and providing a pleasing, meaningful memory.

All forms of tzedakah and tikkun olam are important. It’s just nice to find a way of doing it that expresses all the love and care that a quilt does. I’m grateful to have discovered this tradition.”

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Thank you for sharing this….it is a lovely, inspirational story!

Joanne, Armstrong, BC

Thanks very much for posting this message. I have great respect for the depth of tradition in Jewish life and practice, and this gives more language for the strong charitable focus of so many quilters that I admire and appreciate.

Barbara Polston

Thanks for posting this beautiful sentiment. Your correspondent has shared beautifully of her faith tradition, but also of what many quilters are doing…creating change in the world, one quilt at a time.