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Reviving Jewish Traditions Through Textiles

Do you know the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework?

The Guild was organized in 1977 by a group of professional Jewish needle artists in New York. These women shared a common interest in maintaining Jewish tradition through textiles by creating new and beautiful ceremonial objects for the home and synagogue. The Guild publishes a quarterly newsletter and sponsors a convention in North America every two years, offering classes to support Jewish traditions through textiles such as quilting, embroidery, knitting, and other fiber crafting.  

Jewish traditions through textiles

Formal Chapters of the organization have been formed in 12 States and there is also one in Alberta, Canada. Chapter meetings are a rich blend of needlework, culture, tradition and religious practices as they relate to Judaic textiles. Members study the history of Judaic ritual objects in order to embellish their work with authentic symbols and motifs. Through these efforts, members perpetuate their Jewish traditions through textiles for generations to come.

Why Pomegranate?

The Pomegranate is frequently mentioned in the Bible and is reported to have 613 seeds, the number of required mitzvot (good deeds). It was chosen as a modern link to the Guild’s heritage and founding principle of reviving Jewish Traditions through textiles.

The name, “Pomegranate” was specifically taken from the Bible, in Exodus 39, verses 24 – 25: “And they made upon the hem of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet and twined linen” which describes the garments of Aaron, the High Priest. The Guild logo, designed by a founding member, is a stylized pomegranate with the stem transformed into a threaded needle.

A Quilting Friendship Rooted in Jewish Traditions Through Textiles

Marion and Mary Ann are from Winnipeg, Canada. They have known each other since 1995 when they met in a Jewish conversion class in Canada and have been friends ever since.  It was Marion who introduced Mary Ann to quilting. She gave Mary Ann fat quarters, thread, and needles for a birthday gift to encourage her to get started. Marion also invited Mary Ann to join her quilt guild, the Manitoba Prairie Quilters as well as take her to quilt classes and quilt shows.

Jewish traditions through textiles

Another way these quilting friends get support for their interest in Jewish traditions through textiles, is with their membership in Internet Jewish Quilters, a closed group that shares ideas for quilting along with quilt links and upcoming quilt shows.

It was from belonging to this group that Marion and Mary Ann heard about the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework. They joined Pomegranate 7 years ago when Mary Ann gave Marion a membership as a birthday gift. There is no formal Chapter near where they live, so they meet weekly with another friend to quilt. The three also go to quilt shows together.

Road 2019 was Mary Ann and Marion’s first time at the show. During the winter, Marion is a “snowbird” in Palm Springs. She invited Mary Ann to come out and go to the show. An added bonus for coming to the show was that they got to see quilts that two of their friends had entered in the Show’s quilt contest. Mary Ann thought Road was “huge.” She enjoyed seeing all the quilts and the fabrics because there isn’t much of a fabric choice in Winnipeg.

Quilting is a great way to bring friends together who share the same religious culture.  

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