Mysteries of Tefillin Revealed
Small black leather boxes containing parchment strips inscribed with verses from the Torah are called Tefillin, or Phylacteries in English, and have been worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers for thousands of years. To a Jew raised in modern North American culture, however, wearing or wrapping tefillin, as the practice is called, can be totally foreign to his or her own cultural context. Many Jews in North America have little or any experience with tefillin.
To remedy this situation was the inspiration for a “3 Part Tefillin Workshop” beginning on January 12 at Congregation Shaare Zion, continuing on January 19 at Congregation Shaare Zedek and ending January 26 at Congregation Beth El. It promises to be an exciting enlightening and creative opportunity for adults and children alike.
The workshops will be led by Jen Taylor Friedman, an egalitarian, feminist Jewish ritual scribe. Last year, the Shaare Zion Men’s Club sponsored a workshop led by Jen using a model tefillin kit. She provided a fascinating glimpse into the lore of tefillin and the skilled craft of their manufacture. Discovering the complexity of writing texts with a quill to learning about the molded leather housing to understanding the significance of what is written was a lot to put into one meeting, so this year the workshop has expanded into three one-hour sessions. Beyond an examination of the history and the customs surrounding these religious objects targeting teens and adults, a craft project has been incorporated to involve younger children.
Sessions begin at 6:30PM. Call Rosanne Puritz for more information at (514) 481-7727 extension 223. The cost for the entire three part series is $20 for an individual or $35 for a family. You can make reservations online at: http://shaarezion.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=102&Itemid=285
Children will leave the workshops with a model of a tefillin which they can wear at the World Wide Wrap. The World Wide Wrap is an initiative of the International Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs which celebrates the use of tefillin. Groups across the world register to participate and be counted, so that literally thousands of people wrap tefillin in solidarity on the first Sunday of February – this year February 5.
We are linking our Tefillin course to our participation in the World Wide Wrap. The course is enabling participation by three synagogues in the Montreal area.